Tony Jones began the year as the starting tailback for the Colorado Buffaloes.

An injury to Jones and a breakout game from freshman Christian Powell changed those plans.

Now five games into the season, Jones is doing what he can to still make an impact for CU (1-4, 1-1 Pac-12).

"I'm working my way back up," Jones said. "I'm just going to continue to stay focused and not let the negative things take control of me."

Jones had 16 rushing attempts for 43 yards in the season opener against Colorado State. He also caught four passes for 29 yards in that game. He had just 22 offensive touches since then.

With Jones hobbled with an injury, he had just two rushing attempts and two catches -- totaling 5 yards in offense -- in Week 2 against Sacramento State. Powell, meanwhile, got the start at tailback and rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns.

Powell has been the starter ever since, while Jones has taken a backup role. To his credit, Jones has continued to work hard in practice.

"He was down (about it)," CU head coach Jon Embree said. "I talked to him after the Fresno State game (which Jones missed because of injury) about seeing how he can get back to what he needs to do and some of the things I saw he could change and improve on. I think he's addressed those and done a good job with that."

Jones came back the next week against Washington State and had one of the biggest plays of the game in CU's lone win. His 84-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter pulled CU within 31-28, and the Buffs went on to win the game, 35-34.

Against UCLA on Sept. 29, Jones got more of an opportunity to run the ball after Powell injured his ankle in the first half. Powell's status for Thursday's game against Arizona State is up on the air, but if he's healthy, he's sure to start.

Where does that leave Jones? Hopefully still playing a significant role, he said.

"(Offensive coordinator Eric) Bieniemy always told me, everybody is interchangeable," Jones said. "You've just got to be able to do a lot of things, not just wanting to be in the backfield running the ball. You just have to be ready for anything that they throw at you."

Against UCLA, Jones actually lined up as a wide receiver in certain sets. While that's not something the Buffs plan to do often, Embree said having Jones, or maybe even D.D. Goodson, line up outside and give the Buffs some speed could be beneficial.

"He runs good routes, he has good natural hands," Embree said of Jones. "He doesn't flinch when the ball comes at him."

Jones could also be a major factor for CU catching passes out of the backfield. On Tuesday, Embree said CU is "not getting what we need out of the screen game."

A year ago, screen passes were a big part of CU's offense. Part of that, Embree said, was that quarterback Tyler Hansen and running back Rodney Stewart had a great connection and knew how to help each other on those plays. With Hansen and Stewart gone this year, the Buffs have missed that connection.

"We're not quite in sync like that at times," Embree said. "Sometimes it's the quarterback, sometimes it's the back, sometimes it's the line, but we work it every day. It's something we'll continue to emphasize and eventually it'll pay off."

As a backup to Stewart in 2011, Jones had 27 catches. In a limited role this year, Jones has 12 catches, ranking third on the team. Embree said Jones and Malcolm Creer could play a big role in CU getting the screen game going.

Jones also figures to be a nice complement to Powell in the backfield as CU looks ahead to the next seven games.

His current role isn't the role he envisioned coming into the year, but Jones is willing to do what he can to help the Buffs get the offense rolling.

"Of course. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to get out there and just try to make it happen," Jones said. "I'm just trying to win some games, man.

"You always have to make the most of the opportunities that's been given to you. That's what I'm trying to do."

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