There is reason to believe Cyrus Jones will be Patriots’ punt returner
New England Patriots second round pick Cyrus Jones is in position to strongly contend for the starting punt returner job. That is good news.
With Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola starting training camp on the PUP list, Jones has been taking full advantage. By all accounts, he has been fielding punts well, and he also ripped off a couple of impressive returns in Sunday’s non-contact session (yes, non-contact, but still, good for the rookie).
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Where Jones has been struggling a bit has been in competition with Justin Coleman at nickel corner. While Jones has been solid for the most part, not allowing much separation, he has been outshined by the sophomore pro. That’s to be expected, as Coleman was probably the Patriots’ best No. 3 corner last year (certainly better than Rashaan Melvin and Leonard Johnson), so he has experience in the system.
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Jones will get there at cornerback, but for now, he has been turning heads returning punts. And that could be a very, very good thing for the Pats.
Look, if Jones can handle punt return duties, that would take a HUGE load off of Edelman and Amendola. Returning a punt is the most dangerous thing a football player can do (well, one of the many) and the reduction of chances of injury to Edelman and Amendola could pay big dividends.
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Sure, Edelman is one of the best punt returners in NFL history, as evidenced by his historic yards-per-return average. Amendola is also a top punt returner. But having yet another standout punt returner would allow the Patriots to toy around with personnel at that position; maybe in a fourth quarter pinch, Edelman would be put back there. But if the Patriots could get Jones to handle the lion’s share of the duty, that would help everyone out.
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Jones is insanely athletic and shifty. We saw that at during his days at Alabama. If Jones can get a grip on the pro game, get to speed on defense and in live-action punt returning, then the Patriots just may find themselves with an embarrassment of punt returning riches heading into 2016.
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What do you think? Do you see Jones taking hold of the punt returning job?