It looked, for a moment, like Cyrus Jones was going all the way.
After Seattle reclaimed the lead over New England with a fourth-quarter field goal, the rookie Jones fielded the ensuing kickoff and raced up the left sideline. Around midfield, though, he was hit from behind and the ball was knocked from his grasp. Fortunately for the Patriots, Nate Ebner was there to recover… only the see WR Julian Edelman lose the ball two plays later.
"I'm pretty hard on myself," Jones admitted Thursday, "so, regardless of how good a return it was, I had a negative feeling afterward. I was pretty upset. I can't sit there and dwell on it. We got the ball back. The offense was in good scoring position, so, I try to look at the positive.
"A lot of frustration, but I can't do anything about it. Just got to go to the next play."
Nevertheless, that one play typifies the kind of season Jones is having – flashes of talent, but altogether inconsistent. And this applies not just to special teams, but to his performance at his main position, cornerback, as well.
"I mean, it's been up and down, you know, but, I mean, I'm good," Jones maintained. "Just trying to get better. Just trying to go out there and practice and every time I get out there [in a game], just taking advantage of the time to get better and learn from my mistakes. Try not to repeat them."
Unfortunately for Jones, he's been repeating the fumbling mistakes all too often since the start of training camp. Can being too hard on oneself be having the opposite effect and possibly contributing to Jones' struggles thus far? He doesn't seem to think so.
"Me being hard on myself is what got me here. So, no.
"I fumbled a couple of times as a freshman [at Alabama], but… it's part of football. Trying to focus on taking care of the ball. It's not a rocket-science answer. Just have to hold the ball tighter."
After being thrown out of the Cleveland game in Week 5 by the officiating crew, Jones was deactivated by the Patriots for the next three games. Jones described that forced hiatus as "really tough."
"I'm a competitive person and have a lot of confidence in what I can do," he continued. "It was tough not being out there with the team and helping them win. At the end of the day, I have to put my pride to the side and continue to work hard and wait till I get my next opportunity."
TE/co-captain Rob Gronkowski was absent for a second straight day of practice due to the chest injury he incurred against Seattle. This puts his availability for Sunday's game at San Francisco in serious jeopardy.
Joining Gronkowski on the absentee list Thursday were LT Nate Solder and rookie DL Woodrow Hamilton, neither of whom was on the injury report heading into today.