Jacoby Jones has enjoyed many happy returns since signing with the Baltimore Ravens, a trend he hopes to continue this weekend when he goes back to Houston to face the Texans.
Jones was named AFC special teams player of the week Wednesday after he tied an NFL record by taking a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown Sunday in Baltimore's 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Still, he intends to treat his trip back to Houston like just any other game, even though the Texans cut him in May — five months after he fumbled twice in a 20-13 playoff loss to Baltimore.
"It's another team we have to face," Jones said Wednesday, very matter-of-factly. "I think I had five good years there. They gave me an opportunity to play in the NFL, and I appreciate them for that. I moved on to another team. Breath of fresh air."
After his release, Jones needed about two seconds to mull over the Ravens' offer to join them.
"He wanted to be here, so it wasn't anything that was difficult to get done," coach John Harbaugh said. "I think it was one phone call."
And a short one at that.
"As soon as saw Maryland pop up on my phone, I was thinking about a Super Bowl ring," Jones said. "I was ready to roll."
The 28-year-old Jones has been an integral part of the Ravens return game. He's taken back eight punts for 72 yards and returned three kickoffs for 159 yards, including that spectacular 108-yarder that matched the mark set by Ellis Hobbs of New England against the New York Jets in 2007 and equaled in 2011 by Randall Cobb of Green Bay against New Orleans.
After he reached the end zone, Jones channeled his inner Deion Sanders with a celebration jig similar to that of the former NFL standout.
"I'm closer to Dancing With The Stars, player," he said.
Asked if he's prepared a celebration for his next score, Jones replied, "I said I was going to be humble and not dance, but I've got something in my sock. I'll pull something out."
There's no telling how Jones will next get into the end zone. In addition to returning punts and kickoffs, he has 11 receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown.
"Jacoby has been great," Harbaugh said. "He's been a great teammate, he's been a great worker. He's just fun to be around. The guy is a pro in every sense of the word. Obviously he's been a huge addition for us."
The Texans thought it best to part ways with Jones, but that doesn't mean he's not been missed.
"Boy, is he playing well," Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. "We know what Jacoby is capable of. He did it for us here. He always made some big plays, and he's making them not only on special teams, but catching a lot of balls, also."
With Houston, Jones scored 11 touchdowns and had 127 catches for 1,741 yards. But two fumbles in a playoff game prompted his exit, and for Jones, there's no looking back.
"It's a business," he said. "They did what they had to do, and now I have to do what I have to do."
Ravens fullback Vonta Leach and safety Bernard Pollard also played for the Texans, making this a rather interesting homecoming.
"It ain't gonna be weird. We're gonna be fired up," Houston safety Glover Quin said. "We can't let those guys come back to our home and get a win. They're probably going to be fired up. Hey, we are, too."
Houston left tackle Duane Brown said, "Jacoby's over there now, and he's been playing well. I'm happy for him. Just don't want him to do well this week."
There's no way to determine whether the crowd in Houston will cheer Jones for what he did over a five-year run, or jeer him for his performance in that one lamentable game.
"I don't even care," he said. "I'm Raven Nation. They love me and I love them. That's all that matters right now."