Jones eyes fresh start after 'one of the most challenging times in my life'

Jones eyes fresh start after 'one of the most challenging times in my life'

Cyrus Jones did not have the kind of rookie season he expected after being taken in the second round out of Alabama last year. He played in 10 games for the Patriots, saw 147 snaps in Bill Belichick's defense, and never got a handle on the returner role for which it seemed as though he was being groomed. 

His struggles in the return game seemed to snowball on him late in the season as he had difficulty juding punts against the Ravens in Week 13. One bounced off his foot, was recovered by the Ravens, and led to a Baltimore score soon thereafter. Another later in the game nearly grazed him again for a second fumble. 

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Jones returned one more punt in Week 16 against the Jets, but that was the last game for which he was dressed. He was not active for any of New England's three postseason games as both Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman were available as punt-returners.The team also had plenty of cornerbacks from which to choose with Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones rounding out the game-day depth chart. 

After never getting his feet underneath him as a rookie, Cyrus Jones posted to Instagram -- and apparently deleted all older posts -- on Sunday night, indicating that he was looking forward to getting a fresh start next season.

"Reflecting back on my rookie season, this was by far one of the most challenging times in my life," he wrote. "I experienced a lot of pain, disappointment, embarrassment and overall dissatisfaction with myself. But through this time, I learned many lessons that as a man I can say I truly needed to learn..'Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently' and the things I went through this year made me better and wiser.

"Regardless, I was blessed to be apart of something far greater than myself! I experienced the ultimate measure of success in this game we play...and did it with an even greater group of men and I'll never take that for granted. I was quickly reminded how much love and respect I have for this sport and also how much it means to so many people. So with that being said#patsnation , in 2017, 24 will be back and ready to work for the best fans in football! #revenge #godstimingnotmine#seeyallinyear2"

Jones could be in line for more work during his sophomore campaign since Ryan is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and Malcolm Butler will be a restricted free agent. Though it seems unlikely that Butler will end up anywhere other than New England, if Ryan receives an enticing offer elsewhere, Jones would appear to be one of the primary contenders to play in the slot for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

Postcard From Camp, Day One: Gronk puts on a show

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Postcard From Camp, Day One: Gronk puts on a show

FOXBORO -- Day 1 of Patriots training camp practice featured a little bit of Rob Gronkowski news before the session. During the session, Gronkowski put on a show.

In shells and shorts, the Patriots tight end put his trademark style on display by catching touchdown passes during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 work and then hamming it up -- perhaps practicing for the regular season when the restrictions on celebrations have been pulled back a bit by the NFL.

Before the session, Bill Belichick said that Gronkowski had "no limits" in practice. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder certainly seemed to be feeling just fine.

WHAT WE SAW
* Rob Ninkovich, Kony Ealy and Joe Cardona were not spotted at practice. Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch began camp on the PUP list and did not participate Thursday.

* With two of the roster's perceived top defensive ends not present, the representatives for that edge group on Day 1 were Trey Flowers, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise, Geneo Grissom and Shea McClellin.

* During 3-on-4 drills at the goal line, Gronkowski put on a show. The drill may have been only semi-competitive at times but when Gronk caught a touchdown, he celebrated with gusto and the crowd ate it up.

* Jimmy Garoppolo took off for an early lap alongside backup center Ted Karras after a fumbled quarterback-center exchange. Working out the kinks. It's early yet.
 
* Austin Carr had a good release and then caught the "period-winner" to make defensive backs do pushups at the end of a 2-on-2 drill at the goal line. The undrafted rookie receiver from Northwestern earned plaudits from Jimmy Garoppolo and the rest of his offensive teammates for his performance. Even receivers coach Chad O'Shea was fired up, telling the rookie to celebrate after the fact. Carr's in the running for more reps with Andrew Hawkins now out of the mix.

* Justin Coleman made a nice pick with his hands to start things in a positive direction for the defensive backs during 2-on-2 work. Undrafted rookie Kenny Moore also made an impressive pass breakup while in coverage of Malcolm Mitchell.

* Cyrus Jones dropped a kickoff very early in the practice. He looked more smooth during punt-return work. He worked alongside undrafted rookie Will Likely during a punt-return drill.

* During kickoff work later in the session, Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola were the first two returners taking reps. Matthew Slater was also back there in his traffic-cop role. Rex Burkhead, James White, Jones and Likely also took part.

* Cooks ran one around the edge off of motion during 11-on-11 work. It'll be interesting if the Patriots try to implement him in that fashion during the season. He took occasional sweep handoffs while with the Saints with varying levels of success.

* Following the first 11-on-11 period of the day, Tom Brady and Garoppolo worked a side-session with Josh McDaniels and Dion Lewis. Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman also had a quick conversation with Brady.

* Another side session came later that featured Edelman, Cooks, Dwayne Allen, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan and Devin Lucien.

* Grissom appears to be one of the primary beneficiaries when it comes to playing time with Ninkovich and Ealy out. Rookie Derek Rivers also saw work with regulars. At the linebacker level, Jonathan Freeny appear to be one of the first off-the-ball options, along with Shea McClellin.

* Late in the practice, Brady and Garoppolo worked with a group of centers that included Karras, David Andrews, Joe Thuney and Jamil Douglas. Douglas spent much of last season on the Patriots practice squad.

11-on-11
* Brady incomplete for Cooks down the middle. 0-for-1.
* Brady complete for Gronkowski short. 1-for-2.
* Brady incomplete for Cooks. Broken up by Butler. 1-for-3.
* Brady complete to Gronkowski in the back of the end zone with Freeny on him. 2-for-4.

* Garoppolo complete to Gillislee short. 1-for-1.
* Garoppolo incomplete to Edelman. Broken up by Rowe. Thrown behind a bit. 1-for-2.
* Garoppolo complete to Edelman with Cyrus Jones in coverage. 2-for-3.
* Garoppolo complete to Mitchell. 3-for-4.

* Brissett complete to Foster. 1-for-1.
* Brissett complete to Cody Hollister. 2-for-2.
* Brissett complete to Lucien. 3-for-3.
* Brissett complete to LeShun Daniels. 4-for-4.

* Garoppolo complete to Allen down the seam. 4-for-5.
* Garoppolo complete to Allen with Harris in coverage. 5-for-6.
* Garoppolo incomplete to Edelman with Butler in coverage. 5-for-7.
* Garoppolo complete to White with McClellin in coverage. 6-for-8.

* Brady complete to Cooks deep with C. Jones in coverage. 3-for-5.
* Brady complete to Burkhead with Van Noy in coverage. 4-for-6.
* Brady complete to White. 5-for-7.
* Brady complete to Edelman with C. Jones in coverage. 6-for-8.

* Brissett complete to Foster deep with Thompson in coverage. 5-for-5.
* Brissett incomplete to Lucien. Pass breakup by Kenny Moore. 5-for-6.
* Brissett incomplete. 5-for-7.
* Brissett complete to Lucien. 6-for-8.

11-on-11 HURRY
* Brady complete to Cooks. 6-for-9.
* Brady complete to Cooks. 7-for-10.
* Brady complete to Cooks. 8-for-11.
* Brady complete to Burkhead. 9-for-12.
* Brady complete to Burkhead. 10-for-13.
* Brady complete to Hogan. 11-for-14.
* Brady complete to Hogan. 12-for-15.

7-on-7 HURRY-UP
* Brady complete to Cooks on low throw. 1-for-1.
* Brady incomplete for Gronkowski. Broken up by Van Noy. 1-for-2.
* Brady complete for Gronkowski. 2-for-3.
* Brady complete for Edelman. 3-for-4.
* Brady incomplete for Hogan in back of the end zone. Broken up by J. Jones. 3-for-5.
* Brady incomplete for Edelman. 3-for-6.

* Garoppolo complete to Mitchell. 1-for-1.
* Garoppolo complete to Carr. 2-for-2.
* Garoppolo complete to Lewis. 3-for-3.
* Garoppolo incomplete to Mitchell. Broken up by Ebner. 3-for-4.
* Garoppolo intercepted by Richards. Intended for Develin on scramble drill. 3-for-5.
* Garoppolo intercepted by Rowe. 3-for-6.

* Brissett incomplete for Slater. 0-for-1.
* Brissett complete for Slater. 1-for-2.
* Brissett complete to Lucien. 2-for-3.
* Brissett incomplete. Broken up by...the paddle guy. Defense loves it. 2-for-4.

LATE 11-on-11
* Brissett complete to Foster.
* Brissett incomplete to Washington.
* Brissett complete to Jacob Hollister.
* Brissett incomplete out of the back of the end zone.
* Brissett incomplete. Batted down by Wise . . . and Wise wasn't trying.

Belichick: Gronkowski 'doesn't have any limits that I know of'

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Belichick: Gronkowski 'doesn't have any limits that I know of'

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski's health is one of the lone obvious concerns facing the Patriots as they begin training camp this week, but even that doesn't seem to be much of an issue at the moment. 

Asked about Gronkowski on Thursday, Bill Belichick said that the tight end "doesn't have any limits that I know of." 

Gronkowski had season-ending back surgery -- his third such procedure -- after taking part in just seven plays during a Week 12 win over the Jets. The Patriots got by with Martellus Bennett and Matt Lengel as their top two tight ends for the remainder of the season.

Belichick's most recent comments don't come as a major shock since Gronkowski participated fully during OTAs, but they are an indication that even when pads are introduced later in camp, Gronkowski will be prepared to take part in contact drills. 

Any time the words "Gronkowski" and "full participant" happen to appear in the same sentence -- as it appears they will early in camp -- that's obviously very good news for the Patriots.