Gators RB Matt Jones showing signs of improvement

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Gators running back Matt Jones is making progress on his road to recovery from a serious viral infection, according to Gators coach Will Muschamp.

Jones is scheduled for blood work on Monday and Muschamp said that Jones continues to work out and is back up to 223 pounds, only three pounds less than his listed playing weight of 226 pounds.

“I’ll know a little bit more as we move through the week, but he’s been jogging and moving around a little bit more, which is good,” Muschamp said Monday morning. “All I know is he is progressing very well. He feels good. He’s doing more and more every day from a workout standpoint.”

Jones has not participated in fall camp after coming down with a viral infection that required Jones to spend time in the hospital right before camp started. He has slowly regained his strength and in recent days Jones has been more prominent, watching practices and scrimmages.

Projected as the starter to replace Mike Gillislee, Jones rushed for 275 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry as a freshman.

Muschamp said Monday that redshirt junior Mack Brown, redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers and walk-on Mark Herndon are the primary benefactors of Jones’ absence.

Brown is expected to open the season as the starter if Jones isn’t back, which appears unlikely.

“We’ve planned that way the whole time,” Muschamp said of the possibility of opening the season without Jones.

The Gators open the season Aug. 31 against Toledo.

Meanwhile, Showers is getting reps in the backfield after moving from defensive back this fall, and Herndon, a walk-on from Ocala who has worked on special teams, continues to impress coaches as true freshmen Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane make the transition from high school to college.

Other injury updates Muschamp provided Monday:

— Defensive back Jaylen Watkins, who was out with a foot injury for more than a week, has rejoined the team in full-contact drills.

— Fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring), defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (shoulder), defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (knee), receiver Raphael Andrades (turf toe) and guard Jon Halapio (pectoral tear) remain sidelined.