Life as an undrafted NFL rookie doesn't offer much room for error – even if there's no fault in his mistakes.
Former record-breaking Montana wide receiver Jamaal Jones was cut by the San Diego Chargers on Tuesday, waived-injured after the free-agent signee broke his thumb during preseason practice.
The right thumb injury carries a five- to six-week recovery time, after which Jones said he hopes to still make the Chargers' practice squad for the 2016 season.
That would require San Diego to re-sign him between now and then, a time in which Jones said he'll spend back in the Seattle-Tacoma area healing and staying in shape.
"It's definitely a possibility," Jones said. "It's kind of up in the air and we'll just see what happens.
"... I mean they were nice about it. They understood it was just kinda one of those freak things that happen. They said they liked my attitude and what they'd seen from me, which made it easier for them to suggest possibly putting me on practice squad."
The injury occurred just a few days into San Diego's preseason practice slate, which opened on Saturday. Jones was running routes with the offense and attempted a catch over the middle on the fateful play.
"I got hit in mid-air and while I was trying to break my fall, I extended my arm and my thumb got caught in the grass and it snapped," Jones said.
The Chargers signed veteran receiver James Jones to a one-year contract Tuesday to fill the UM product's place on the roster.
Jones left the Grizzlies as the school's all-time leader in career receiving yards. A postseason stat revision – a 10-yard catch against UC Davis in October was incorrectly marked down as a running play – gave the Spanaway, Washington, native 75 grabs for 1,217 yards in his senior year and 3,021 for his illustrious career.
That's just 3 yards ahead of Griz great and current Chicago Bear Marc Mariani.
Still the 6-foot-1, 189-pound Jones, an All-American in 2015, went undrafted in May's NFL draft before signing with the Chargers soon after. He'd received positive feedback from his position coach, wide receivers coach Nick Sirianni, who praised his sharp route running.
"I was getting better every day and that's the biggest thing in mini camp and this whole process in general," Jones said. "It's really just the technique and the subtleties of the game. Everybody's athletic and everybody can run, but can everybody understand what they need to do and do it to their best?"
Jones was one of three former Grizzlies to earn pro contracts during the NFL offseason. The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted defensive end Tyrone Holmes in the sixth round and receiver Ben Roberts earned a free-agent deal with the Tennessee Titans after pulling a non-contract invite to rookie mini camp.
Roberts, a Missoula Sentinel graduate, was pegged as the team's top undrafted pickup this offseason by Bleacher Report this week.
Linebacker Herbert Gamboa (Kansas City) and punter Chris Lider (Seattle) also had invitations for minicamp tryouts, but did not make their respective teams.