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Donald Jones confident illness won't threaten his career

By Tim Graham

Donald Jones' breakout season has been derailed by an illness he's unwilling to discuss.

The Buffalo Bills placed Jones on injured reserve Monday because of the condition. Jones, the undrafted third-year pro, finished with 41 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns -- almost identical to the numbers from his first two seasons combined.

"Going from having really the best season that I've had in the league to this now, it's definitely something that I didn't want to have to go through," Jones said somberly at his locker stall. "But that initial impact is done now.

"So now it's just moving forward. I've got to go home and get right and get everything healthy and get back on the field and be strong for everybody."

Jones declined to get into specifics about his illness. He said the condition is "not career-threatening at all" and that it's something he has been "dealing with for years." The Plainfield, N.J., native said the specialists he would visit are in New York City.

"Now, going on IR gives me a chance to really rest my body and get everything back together," Jones said. "I can't really speak on it right now. Once I go see the doctors and get a chance to talk to everybody and gather everything together, I'm sure more will come out then."

Jones last year told Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan of a "minor kidney disorder" that Jones learned about at the 2010 NFL scouting combine and led to him not being drafted out of Youngstown State.

"I don't have to take any medication," Jones told Gaughan. "It's something I'll probably always have. It doesn't affect me playing at all, and it has never affected me."

It's uncertain if that's the same condition that led to Jones' season ending early. This morning, he didn't want to reveal much.

"I'll definitely have a full offseason and come back to do football stuff," Jones said. "The people that I'm going to deal with are top-of-the-line doctors. They'll get everything back together, and I'm sure they'll be able to get a better understanding and get everything under control.

"It doesn't impact me on the field at all. That's really all I can say right now. I can't really say how it affects my body, per se."

Jones will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He established himself as a reliable target for Buffalo and, as an undrafted player, should be re-signable at a reasonable price.

He was second on the Bills in receptions and yards before a calf injury forced him to miss two games. His 68-yard catch and run in Week Four against the New England Patriots is the Bills' longest play from scrimmage this year.

"I definitely feel comfortable with the support of the coaching staff and management," Jones said. "Moving forward, I'm sure we'll be talking with them soon. But, just like me, they have to get a better understanding how we can treat this going forward with the doctors. Once that's under control we can do everything with the contract."

Jones stepped up with slot receiver David Nelson suffering a season-ending knee injury on opening day, but Bills General Manager Buddy Nix last week told WGR he'd like to add a big-play outside receiver.

"I can't control what they do as far as bringing in another receiver, a big-time receiver. If that's what they decide to do in the draft or free agency or whatever it is, I just come back every year and play.

"I've been battling since I got here. Every year in this league is going to be a battle. So if that's what they decide to do, then that's what they decide to do. When I get back, I'll battle. I'll battle every year going forward."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |