Cyrus Jones looking to show Patriots coaches consistency after rocky start

Cyrus Jones looking to show Patriots coaches consistency after rocky start

FOXBORO -- This is new to Cyrus Jones. The growing pains. The dearth of playing time.

He was a star in high school, Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland in 2011, and he made his way from Baltimore to the University of Alabama to play receiver in 2012. He didn't star as a freshman, but he played in 11 games before making the switch to defensive back. By the time he was a junior, his career had taken off. 

His introduction to the NFL has not been quite so seamless.

The second-round pick was made a healthy scratch before the Patriots took on the Bengals last weekend, and Jones is now focused on working his way back into the lineup defensively and as a returner on punts and kicks. 

"Of course, just being a competitor, you want to be out there," Jones said Wednesday. "It's tough. But at the end of the day, you gotta take it in stride and keep getting better and trust in the coaching staff. Coach Bill [Belichick] has been coaching a long time and he's coached a lot of players. You just gotta keep working hard and know that your time will come eventually."

Jones had hoped to contribute upon arrival in New England. He's been used as a returner, and he's played sparingly at corner, but he has not yet seized a regular role, which has been the source of some frustration. Successful as he was in college, and though his alma mater is annually one of the best programs in the country, he understands that the attention to detail required to make an impact at the pro level is different.

"Guys come in that are used to being a big fish in a small pond, but now everybody's the best of the best," he said. "Everybody's part of that one percent that actually made it. It just makes it that much more tough. You gotta be on top of your job at all times and just understand that everybody here is a good player. There's less room for error."

Against the Bengals, the Patriots carried Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Eric Rowe and undrafted rookie Jonathan Jones (who has not played regularly on defense but has a consistent role in kick-coverage) as their four corners. In the return game, receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola handled punts while undrafted rookie running back DJ Foster took on the duties of kick-returner.

Jones has not seen the field since being ejected from a Week 5 win in Cleveland for what officials determined was a punch that connected with Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins. Jones contends that he did not punch Hawkins (there is no known video of the punch), and he was not fined, but he was contrite after the fact, apologizing to teammates when the game was over. 

"I'm happy I didn't get fined, but it's still not a good look, either," Jones acknowledged. "Especially in Coach's eyes. You gotta be the bigger person in that situation. 

"After the game, I just told [teammates], regardless of what happened, I gotta be smarter in that type of situation. It might not have cost us today, but in a bigger game, a bigger situation, that can't happen because it can lead to us losing a game possibly, depending on the situation. I just told them that they'll never have to worry about something like that happening again."

Jones didn't correlate his benching against the Bengals to what happened against the Browns, but he admitted that he had work to do on "just little things, the details that could pretty much determine you making a play and you not making a play, little things like that that you just gotta adapt to as a younger guy quickly" in order to earn the trust of Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff on game days.

"I mean, I'm not playing so I'm definitely not where I want to be," Jones said. "I'm just trying to improve in all aspects. I'm not trying to pinpoint one thing and say I need help here or I need help there. I'm just overall trying to be consistent in everything that I do and let the chips fall where they are after that."

He added: "All you can do is control what you can control and worry about yourself. That's what I've been trying to do and just stay patient with everything. It's still just the beginning for me so just try to keep that in perspective and just go out there and just try to get better at practice."

Like any good corner, Jones is hoping to have a short memory when it comes to some of his experiences thus far as a rookie. The key for him, he explained, is to learn from the missteps, foreign as they've been, and get past them.

"I just think it's about forgetting past mistakes and just trying to move on, make sure things like that don't happen again, whatever the mistake was, however big or however small," Jones said. "You just try to correct that stuff and just show the coaches that you can be consistent. Whenever your number's called again, whenever that is, you just have to be ready to do your job . . .

"I still know what type of player I am and know the things I can do. But Coach is going to play who he feels is the best prepared and can help the team win games. I'm just waiting patiently for my opportunity, whenever that is. Until then, I just gotta keep grinding."

What Bill Belichick's pro day tour tells us about Patriots draft strategy

What Bill Belichick's pro day tour tells us about Patriots draft strategy

It’s one of the rites of spring. This is the time of year NFL fans across America overemphasize the importance of their team’s coach or general manager popping up at a particular program’s pro day. You can set your watch to it. 

Coach X showed up at University Y so you KNOW he wants Player Z!

The pro day circuit is just one aspect of the pre-draft preparation process for NFL clubs, though. The information gleaned from stops on college campuses through March and early April is, as Bill Belichick might say, just part of the evaluation mosaic. 

The tape matters. The combine matters. Private workouts matter. Official visits matter. Claiming a meeting or an interview between a player and a club at any one of these spots will dictate a draft-day match is foolhardy. 

Still . . . it's interesting to track teams’ whereabouts in order to see if any trends develop.

Here we'll lay out where the two primary players in the Patriots front office, Belichick and Nick Caserio, have been spotted over the last couple weeks since pro days kicked off. Their itinerary may be nothing but a sliver of a view into where the team's interests lay, but we’ll take that sliver with the understanding that it is what it is.


Belichick made his seemingly annual trip to the University of Alabama to catch up with old friend Nick Saban and see some of the college game's top prospects. The Crimson Tide could have more than a dozen players drafted, and most of their top prospects reside on the defensive side of the ball. Receiver Calvin Ridley, defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne shoild be long gone by the time the Patriots pick at No. 31, but there are plenty of other talented defenders they could have a shot at. Linebacker Rashaan Evans (6-foot-3, 234) would be an interesting fit for a defense that could use an addition to its second level. Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (6-4, 297) is intriguing because of his versatility as a base end who could rush from the inside in sub situations. Safety Ronnie Harrison (6-3, 214) also seems like a Patriots type. Even punter JK Scott could be on their radar. 


Caserio headed to Wisconsin's pro day, where linebacker Jack Cichy posted a very strong short-shuttle (4.28 seconds) and three-cone times (7.10). He's an off-the-ball type who measured in at 6-foot-2, 234 pounds and is projected by to go on Day 3. The Badgers don't have quite as many pro prospects as Alabama, but they have seven or eight who could hear their names called on draft weekend. Corner Nick Nelson (5-11, 208) and edge defender Leon Jacobs (6-3, 230) were two of Wisconsin's best players, and would’ve been worth a look from the Patriots director of player personnel. 


Belichick kept a close eye on the defensive linemen participating in NC State's pro day Monday. Bradley Chubb is expected to be the first defensive player taken in the draft so the Patriots won't have a shot at him (which Belichick admitted to Chubb following the workout), but defensive tackle BJ Hill (6-4, 315) may have been of interest. He's thought of as a mid-rounder after a very strong showing at the Senior Bowl and a solid combine. Kentavius Street (6-2, 280) is really powerful as a defensive end and could be had toward the end of the draft. Belichick also reportedly spent some time watching backs Nyheim Hines (5-8, 197) and Jaylen Samuels (5-11, 233) run routes. 

Caserio, meanwhile, kept a close eye on the workout put together by Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside (6-2, 201). Our Mike Giardi put together a piece on Woodside, who tested well at the combine and is considered to have a good football IQ, earlier this offseason. Read it. Caserio was joined at Toledo by Patriots scout Patrick Stewart, who was also present for Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta's pro day.


Belichick went from NC State to South Carolina where he reportedly met with tight end Hayden Hurst for the second time. Hurst (6-4, 250), a walk-on who played two years of minor-league baseball, may be the first tight end taken in this year's draft. Linebacker Skai Moore (6-2, 221) was extremely productive for the Gamecocks, leading the team in tackles all four years of his career, which Belichick clearly appreciated. Moore told reporters after his pro day work out that he met with Belichick for an hour and that Belichick told him he's a great player. Belichick and Moore also met at the combine, Moore said.

So what can we make of Belichick and Caserio's stops thus far? We’re careful not to make too much of these stops visits, but here are some quick-hitting thoughts . . .

* They appear to want more information on the draft's second (or third) tier of quarterbacks. It should come as no surprise that the Patriots won't be in the running to select passers like USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen or Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. But the group that includes Woodside, Lauletta and others -- perhaps Washington State's Luke Falk, whose pro day will be at Utah State on Mar. 28, Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, and Western Kentucky's Mike White -- seems to be of interest.

* Are the Patriots looking for their next playmaker at tight end? Even with Rob Gronkowski on the roster (assuming he returns in 2018) the Patriots could use another pass-catcher at this spot. Their interest in Hurst is intriguing. If they pop up at South Dakota State's pro day on Mar. 30 -- home of Dallas Goedert -- then that might be an indication they are considering a running mate and heir apparent for Gronkowski. 

* Outside of offensive tackle, off-the-ball linebacker might be the biggest need the Patriots have not addressed via trade or free agency this offseason. It would come as little surprise if they opted for a rookie (or two) who play that position in this year's draft. Evans is among the draft's most talented at that spot, but there are some questions around the league as to whether or not he'd be the traffic cop that, for instance, Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower have been for the Patriots. Getting a closer look at Cichy and Moore would also seem to indicate that New England is taking a close look at a newer (smaller) breed at that spot. Belichick has long liked bigger linebackers, but as the speed of the game picks up perhaps he’ll be more open to going small(ish) here. The Patriots were represented at Viriginia Tech's pro day on Mar. 14 (home of top linebacker prospect Tremaine Edmunds) and it'll be interesting to see if they show up at Boise State (home of Leighton Vander Esch) on April 3. Belichick is reportedly headed to Georgia's pro day on Wednesday, where he'll have a chance to see athletic off-the-ball 'backer Roquan Smith and athletic edge player Lorenzo Carter. Either would immediately provide the Patriots front-seven with a shot of athleticism. 

* That Belichick has seen a boatload of talented defensive linemen at Alabama and NC State isn't a shocker. While they may not have a glaring need up front for 2018 — especially after trading for Danny Shelton and signing Adrian Clayborn — both Shelton and Malcom Brown could be elsewhere in 2019 if the Patriots don't pick up their fifth-year options. Trey Flowers is also headed into a contract year. 


Quick Slants the Podcast: Ranking the Patriots additions, are the Patriots better defensively, but worse offensively?

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Quick Slants the Podcast: Ranking the Patriots additions, are the Patriots better defensively, but worse offensively?

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry go over the moves the Patriots have made this offseason and rank their favorite moves and what to expect from those players.

(1:00) Ranking the Patriots acquisitions so far.

(5:30) Will Danny Shelton or Jason McCourty have a bigger impact n the Patriots defense?

(13:00) What can Patriots fans realistically expect from Cordarrelle Patterson?

(16:00) Are the Patriots a better team now than they were at the end of the Super Bowl?

(17:00) What is the next position in need for the Patriots?

(23:00) How concerning is the tension level between Belichick/Brady/Gronkowski, when should Patriots fans start to panic?