FOXBORO, Mass. — Cyrus Jones is back in a New England Patriots uniform, but he could be taking on a new role in his return.
Jones, a 2016 second-round pick, was waived during roster cuts. He went unclaimed but caught on with the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad. The Patriots officially signed him off the Ravens’ practice squad Wednesday, which caught everyone, including Jones, by surprise.
“To be back here this quick is mind-blowing,” Jones said. “When it happened, it was mind-blowing. But I’ve adjusted back just fine just like I never left. So, it’s been good.”
Jones is expected to take on punt return duties with the Patriots. He struggled in that role, fumbling four times, during his rookie season, but he’s confident in his returning abilities.
“I was comfortable when I left, so I’m comfortable now,” Jones said.
Jones tore his ACL last summer and missed his entire second season. He played just 147 defensive snaps as a rookie, all of which came at cornerback with 40 in the slot. He allowed five catches on 11 targets for 105 yards with a touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus.
With Patrick Chung out of practice with a concussion and no safeties on the practice squad, the Patriots are shallow at the position. That led Jones to take snaps at a new position Thursday in practice.
“Yeah, I got out there a little bit at safety, just because we’re short right now,” Jones said. “I’m not really sure what coaches want to do with that, but whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to try to do it to the best of my ability.”
Some players who have switched from the slot to safety have seen similarities in the positions. Jones didn’t.
“Two totally different positions,” Jones said. “So, I’m just gonna do what the coaches ask, work hard, study hard and try to go out there and perform at a high level on Sunday.”
A position switch could work out well for Jones. It certainly helped out Patriots captain Devin McCourty, who played cornerback his first two seasons. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, struggled in his second season and moved to safety full time in his third.
The Patriots signed Jones to a two-year contract, so it’s clear they have plans for him. If returning punts goes better for him the second time around, he could even hold onto that role when Julian Edelman returns from a four-game suspension.