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Alabama in the Pros

Patriots’ cornerback Cyrus Jones earns high praise heading into training camp

Former Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones returns punt for a TD in 2015 vs. Charleston Southern: Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of his size (5-foot-10, 200 pounds), Cyrus Jones is the ultimate competitor.

The second round pick of the New England Patriots enters training camp, as a potential starter in the slot at cornerback for the upcoming season. He created so much buzz during offseason activities that one of the team’s veteran players compared him to another former Alabama star, Donta Hightower.

According to ESPN reporter Mike Reiss, safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty said Jones reminds him a lot of Hightower when he first came to New England in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Hightower, 26, totaled 61 tackles, 3.5 sacks, a fumble recovery and two passes defended in 12 regular-season games in 2015. He earned his first Super Bowl championship in 2014, while being named to first-team All-Pro in the same year.

Along with defense, Jones was also experimented on special teams as a kick and punt returner.

He amassed 530 punt returns yards with four touchdowns on 42 returns a year ago at Alabama, with one of his scores coming on a 57-yard punt return against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.

On defense, Jones finished with 106 career tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 25 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and seven interceptions in three seasons (2013-15). The Patriots have multiple weapons in its secondary, but if Jones continues to improve, he makes the unit even better.

All players will report to training camp on Thursday, July 28.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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