For Jonathan Jones, the 2021 season is already over. The veteran suffered a shoulder injury during the New England Patriots’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys in October, and had to undergo season-ending surgery shortly thereafter.
Even from injured reserve, however, the 28-year-old is making sure to help his teammates out. Fellow cornerback Myles Bryant, who took over as the Patriots’ third cornerback and primary slot guy after Jones’ departure, revealed as much during a press conference earlier this week.
“Jon, he helps a lot. He’s still in and out of he building,” Bryant said.
“That ‘star’ position, it’s a very cerebral position. You have to be on your toes in terms of thinking. If I have a question, I’ll go to him whether it’s a text or if I see him in person, I’ll just ask him about his insight or his perspective on a certain thing we’re trying to iron out. And then we just see something for what it is and then go from there.”
Jones first arrived in New England as a rookie free agent in 2016. Despite his lack of draft pedigree he was able to find a valuable niche in the Patriots’ defense, playing both in the slot and as a part-time safety. In that role, he appeared in a combined 93 games and earned a pair of Super Bowl rings.
Entering the final season of the three-year extension he signed in 2019, Jones resumed his role in the New England secondary. He played roughly half of the team’s defensive snaps over the first six weeks before this shoulder issue knocked him out for the remainder of the year.
Another former rookie free agent took over: Bryant, now in his second season with the organization, was elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man team to help replace the injured veteran.
He has seen regular playing time since Week 7, notching 23 tackles and a sack along the way.
Now heading into a pivotal Week 13 matchup with the Buffalo Bills, Bryant will again be called upon to play a prominent role. The youngster will likely be matched up with Bills slot receiver Cole Beasley — a player Jones went up against three times over the last two seasons.
When asked about what makes Beasley a challenging matchup for a player at his position, Bryant pointed to his experience and ability to get open quickly.
“When you’ve been playing that long, you have a good feeling for the game, you understand the game,” he said about the 10-year veteran. “He’s a quick guy. He’s a quick, gritty guy. He’s an undrafted guy, and he just plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s able to find separation, find the space he needs to get open, and they’re able to count on him.”
Jones will likely be able to give Bryant a few tips on how to handle Beasley. In three matchups, after all, he has held the Bills’ receiver to only 55 receiving yards on six receptions.
Bryant having a similar performance on Monday would be good news for the Patriots.