BOSTON (CBS) — At Alabama, Cyrus Jones was a dynamic punt returner in 2015, returning 42 punts for 530 yards and four touchdowns for the best college team in the country.
In New England, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola were reliable returners from the Patriots. But considering the beating that both men take as part of the offense, Bill Belichick likely saw Jones as a solid solution to maintaining the success of the return game while preserving the health of two of his top receivers.
In theory, it made sense. In practice, it was a disaster.
The 60th overall pick of the 2016 draft just never got rolling, as he showed a tendency to struggle to cleanly field punts and also got himself ejected from a game for throwing a punch. It culminated in the Patriots’ nationally televised win over the Ravens, when Jones muffed a punt and gave the Ravens prime field position. Earlier in that game, he nearly made the same mistake. Both came on plays where the returner did not need to be anywhere near the football.
The rookie played just one game after that, and he was inactive throughout the playoffs. Jones took to Instagram to reflect on his disappointing rookie season.
The NFL can offer some tough lessons. Jones’ statement indicates that he’s at least willing to learn.