Cyrus Jones has struggled as a returner. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)
FOXBORO — Before practice on Wednesday, Patriots rookie Cyrus Jones stood before a group of reporters and admitted that when it comes to working as a return man, he’s struggled when it comes to the confidence part of the job.
“It’s definitely a confidence thing [and], I didn’t really do a very good job helping myself out this year in that category,” Jones admitted when asked about his confidence when it comes to working as a returner this season. “But I still feel confident in what I can do. I’m just trying to focus on becoming more consistent, and like I said, just eliminate bad football.
“You know, it’s tough to gain the trust of the coaches when you keep going out there and keep muffing punts and doing things like that. So it’s on me. The coaches keep giving me opportunities because they know what I can do. And once I get the bad football eliminated. that’s what I’m focusing on, just trying to be more secure with the ball. … From then on, once I get the ball in my hands, that’s the easy part.”
Jones has eight kick returns for 180 yards (22.5 average) and nine punt returns for 42 yards (4.7 average). But it’s been ball security that has really given him a hard time this year, as he’s had four fumbles this season, according to the NFL’s official gamebooks. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder, who had four punt returns for touchdowns last year at Alabama, said that right now, it’s about building consistency.
“Definitely,” he said. “I mean, the more success you have, the more confident you are in your ability to go out there and make plays. Having good weeks of practice. Haven’t muffed any in practice, but to get back out there and do the same thing again, it’s pretty frustrating. But you build character through tough situations.
“I’m just taking it in stride. I know it’s not the end of the world. Just next time I get the opportunity, [I have to] try to make a play.”
Despite the issues, Jones will continue to get special teams reps going forward for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that semi-regular punt returner Danny Amendola could be out for a few weeks between now and the start of the postseason. When asked if he anticipates more reps at the spot going forward, Jones shrugged.
“Danny’s out, so somebody has to get back there and do it,” he said. “I’ll just take whatever opportunities I get.”
The Alabama product didn’t offer any predictions when it comes to the college football playoffs.
“No predictions. As long as Bama comes out on top,” he said with a smile. “Of course I want my team to win. But the playoffs are tough. They just have to keep doing what they’ve been doing. I wish those guys the best of luck.”
In year’s past, when it comes to big games, there’s been some side action that involves a wager or two. (Usually where the player from the losing team has to practice or meet the media in the opposing teams’ jersey.) But Jones said not one has approached him yet about a bet.
“I’m sure when it gets close to game time, some people will start trash talking,” he said.
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