Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones, a second-round pick in 2016, struggled during his rookie season as a punt returner. So far, those struggles are lingering into 2017.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes that Jones “misplayed several balls” in practice on Thursday at an OTA practice. He either lost the punts in the wind or flat-out dropped them.
For that reason, Howe floats the idea of removing the punt return from Jones’ repertoire, allowing him to focus solely on playing cornerback. (He also was beaten for a 30-yard touchdown on Thursday, and Malcolm Butler is likely only one season away from leaving New England.)
Jones thrived as a punt returner at Alabama. But first he has to secure the football. Last December, coach Bill Belichick seemed to have Jones’ back after Jones awkwardly strayed his feet toward a live punt that the Ravens had not yet touched.
“[W]e have confidence in all of our players,” Belichick told reporters at the time. “We’ve seen [Matthew] Slater fumble before. We’ve seen [Tom] Brady throw an interception before, too. We’ll always do what we feel is best for the football team based on the situation and the particular game and what we’re dealing with.”
The problem with Jones is that the struggles have gotten into his head, and perhaps the only way to get the most out of him in his primary role will be to shut down a secondary role that is causing way too many problems for him and for the team.