Check out our favorite photos from the Patriots mini-camp on Thursday, June 8, 2017.
Cyrus Jones struggled considerably in his rookie season a year ago. To his credit, the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 rookie class has never denied or shied away from this fact. On the contrary, he's spoken at length about it on numerous occasions.
Entering his second NFL season, Jones might have to prove – to himself and everyone else – that 2016 was an aberration, but he's trying not to dwell on his past mistakes. He maintains that his only goal is "just being the best player I can for the team."
"It's a no-brainer. You watch last year," he acknowledged Thursday after mini-camp practice, "and as far as proving something, I just want to come out and be a productive player for the team. I'm not going into every day saying 'I need to prove this, prove that.' I'm just trying to come work hard every day and get better."
The 23-year-old cornerback/punt returner has gotten off to a better start this spring than he did a year ago. He's been far more consistent handling the football on punt returns and has been given more opportunities on defense with the early personnel groups.
"It's not up to me to decide. That's the coaches' decision," he replied when asked if he feels he's made strides during this non-contact practice sessions. "I'm just coming out here and working hard… I'm just glad to be on the field.
"You can pinpoint a lot of reasons for my struggles, but it's not important. It's done, it's in the past. I'm focused on this upcoming season."
With a year's experience in New England's system, Jones looks more at home on the field than he did this time last spring, and, sporting a new jersey number (41), admits to having a more optimistic outlook heading into this season.
"I'm feeling relaxed and excited to come to work every day," he continued. "The more you're out there and get a chance to get those [practice] reps, the better off you'll be in the long run.
"I've completely moved on as far as I'm concerned. This is a new slate and I'm just trying to be better in 2017."
While the Patriots were on the field for their midday session Thursday, news broke that the Patriots and wide receiver Julian Edelman are nearing an agreement on a contract extension.
NFL Network, the first outlet to report this development, indicated that new deal could be consummated within the next few days. Late Thursday afternoon, ESPN cited an unnamed source saying the deal was done, adding the detail that the extension is for two years, locking Edelman up through the 2019 season. Financial figures were not included.
The 31-year-old Edelman had been entering the final season of a four-year pact he inked back in 2014. He had been slated to earn $3 million in base salary this season.
A nice ring to it
Today was the final day of mandatory 2017 mini-camp, and tomorrow will mark the ceremonial conclusion of New England's championship 2016 campaign. The Patriots will receive their Super Bowl LI rings at an event that will reunite many members of last season's squad who are no longer with the club.
"Well, it's a great feeling to have everybody back together for that," head coach Bill Belichick remarked. "It was a great accomplishment and we'll enjoy it tomorrow night."
"Oh, yeah, we're going to get the rings," cornerback Eric Rowe emphasized. "But as far as looking back, it's all great, but besides getting the rings, it's a new year. The page has been turned. We're on to a new chapter."
OTAs resume Monday
As evidence that it's a new season, the Patriots will get right back to work on Monday with the first of their three final organized team activity practices [OTAs]. These will be the final on-field workouts they'll conduct as a team until training camp opens in late July.