FOXBORO, Mass. — Cyrus Jones has a lot to prove heading into the 2017 season, but the second-year defensive back didn’t help his case in the New England Patriots’ preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
Jones allowed three catches on four targets for 151 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to Keelan Cole and a 42-yard TD from Brandon Allen to Dede Westbrook, which proved to be the game-winning score in the Jaguars’ 31-24 win.
While Jones’ struggles at cornerback have been manifested in his first season-plus in the NFL, it appears the Patriots are looking for other ways for the 23-year-old to make an impact. Midway through the fourth quarter, Jones was slotted at safety as opposed to his typical cornerback spot.
New England was thin at safety going into the contest, as Jordan Richards, Jason Thompson and Damarius Travis were the only players available at the position. And when the safety depth grew even thinner as the game progressed, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick turned to Jones to fill the need.
“We have a lot of players having a lot of different responsibilities, playing in different spots,” Belichick said. “We went into the game with three safeties and they weren’t all able to finish, so that’s part of it, too. But the more things a player can do, if he can do them at a good level, then the more value he adds to the team. It wasn’t something we really planned on, but it worked out that way. We’ll take a look at it and evaluate that.”
Aside from playing two positions in the defensive backfield Thursday night, Jones also was featured as a return man. He returned six kickoffs for 117 yards and also returned a punt for no gain. Jones secured each kickoff, though, which was a major issue of his last season.
It should be interesting to see how Jones fares the remainder of the postseason. After being selected in the second round in last year’s draft, the Alabama product hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations in New England. But maybe a position change is exactly what he needs to find his way and make an impact for the Patriots.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images