FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cyrus Jones dropped into coverage in the second quarter of the New England Patriots’ preseason finale against the New York Giants last August and turned around to track a pass by quarterback Josh Johnson.

Then Jones’ right knee buckled, and he dropped to the turf at Gillette Stadium with a torn ACL and a partially torn meniscus in his right knee, on a non-contact play.

After a rocky – to put it mildly – rookie season, Jones had started to flash the skills as a cornerback and punt returner in training camp that led the Patriots to draft him in the second round (60th overall) in 2016. Then, in an instant, he found his second season over before it started.

“It was very frustrating,” Jones said Monday of the first major injury of his playing career. “I don’t know the exact time period when I was, you know, I can’t dwell on it. But very quickly I tried to move on and rely on my faith and understand that everything happens for a reason, and just try to take positives from it.”

Jones opened this training camp on the physically unable to perform list and missed the first nine practices before being activated Aug. 7. He has been eased back in, fielding punts and kickoffs and getting a few reps on defense in 11-on-11 work.

While Jones is focused on his football future, as he’s no sure bet to stick come September, he can’t help but think back to the misfortune that befell him 12 months ago.


“That’s a no-brainer,” the 24-year-old Baltimore native said. “I just got out here four (practices) ago, so yeah, I’m still thinking about it. That will come with time.

“I just want to go out there and not focus on it – which I wouldn’t say is impossible, but it’s definitely a tough thing to do when you haven’t been out there for so long, and you’re not really getting your feet wet.”

Jones also is looking to forget about his first NFL season, which was a certified confidence buster and one he once described as “hell.”

A two-time All-SEC selection at the University of Alabama, Jones led the nation with four punt returns for touchdowns as a senior. The thought was he’d step into that role with the Patriots, helping to alleviate the workload of Julian Edelman, while also working himself into the sub-defense at corner.

Not so much.

Jones averaged just 4.2 yards on 11 punt returns and fumbled an astounding five times on a total of 19 punt and kick returns. He appeared in 10 games, playing a total of 147 defensive snaps and making seven tackles.


The Patriots benched Jones for three games after he was ejected for fighting with Cleveland Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins in Week 5 and was a healthy scratch for five of the final eight games, playoffs included.

Not having an opportunity last year to make amends for his disappointing rookie campaign was frustrating, but Jones made the most of his time away from the field by devoting himself to improving as a person and a player.

“I wouldn’t say I learned anything from the actual injury itself,” Jones said, “but just trying to use this time wisely to first, work on myself as a person outside of football, and just try to become a student of the game.

“Try to get those reps in the film room and also watching the games on Sunday if I wasn’t here, just to get an edge in that aspect. That’s all you can do.”

And while he was discouraged at the time of the injury, Jones has put that behind him – like his rocky rookie season. He recognizes how fortunate he is to not only be playing professional football, but for an organization as successful as the Patriots.

Now he’s looking forward to taking the next step, when he’s a full participant in practice and able to play in the preseason.

“I put the work in, try to get better out here and be the best that I can,” Jones said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get out there and showcase the work that I put in. I ain’t really worried about negative stuff right now, frustration or whatever. It’s in the past.”

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