FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots 2016 second-round draft choice Cyrus Jones, who projected as the team’s top punt returner after Julian Edelman tore his right ACL last Friday, left Thursday night’s preseason finale against the New York Giants in the second quarter with a serious knee injury that could put his season in jeopardy, according to a source.
Jones is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Friday, but the initial diagnosis is “not good,” the source said.
Jones was playing cornerback when the injury happened with 8:38 remaining in the second quarter, as he was covering Giants receiver Travis Rudolph up the left sideline. When Jones stepped with his right foot, his leg seemed to give out on the synthetic grass surface. There was no contact that led to the injury. Medical staffers helped Jones to the sideline as he couldn’t apply much pressure, if any, on his right foot.
While at Alabama, Jones was one of the most dynamic returners in college football. His four career punt returns for touchdowns set a Crimson Tide single-season record.
His value as a returner is what led the Patriots to select him with their top pick in the 2016 draft (60th overall), over a handful of players the club had rated similarly. Jones struggled as a rookie in the role, but had shown improvement in the 2017 preseason.
The injury could thrust veteran receiver Danny Amendola into the top punt returner role. However, the Patriots might be concerned about expanding his workload and increasing his injury risk because they likely will tap him more at receiver after Edelman’s season-ending knee injury.