FOXBORO - Cyrus Jones wasn’t good last year. No way to sugarcoat it. He didn’t get many opportunities as a slot corner and when he did, the results weren’t what you’re looking for from a second-round draft pick.
In fact, having Andrew Hawkins on the Patriots roster this spring may be an unfriendly reminder of Week 5 in Cleveland, when the then slot receiver for the Browns scorched Jones for a touchdown, creating some six or seven yards of separation.
But it went beyond that. One of the main reasons Jones was drafted was because of his acumen as a punt returner. He took four to the house in his final year at Alabama. But Jones scuffled in training camp and those scuffles carried over into the regular season. Jones fumbled an NFL-leading five times in the return game and got the rookie a seat on the pine. There he remained, not just as a returner, but on defense, passed by an undrafted player in Jonathan Jones.
Naturally, those struggles were going to create a lot of attention on Cyrus Jones to start Year 2. After a spotty beginning of OTAs, the 5-10 speedster had two clean days of minicamp. Until today. The first punt he attempted to field clanged off his hands. His head dropped. Flashback to last season?
“I’m just focused on this year,” said Jones. “I ain’t really interested in talking about last year.”
Jones is an interesting kid. At times last year, he was open and honest about his struggles, owning them. Then there were times when he showed his immaturity, retweeting his critics and skipping out after the Ravens game, long before the media reached the Pats locker room. Self-inflicted wounds.
“I mean you can pinpoint a lot of reasons for you know my struggles,” said Jones was asked if he put too much pressure on himself. “Like I said before, that’s done, in the past. I’m focused on this upcoming season.”
Pressed more about his performance and what needed to be improved this year, Jones appeared to get defensive, firmly saying “nothing” before catching himself ever so slightly.
“It’s a no-brainer. You watched last year,” said Jones. “As far as proving something, I just want to come out and be a productive player for the team. I’m not going into every day saying I need to prove this, prove that. I’m just trying to come, work hard every day and get better.”