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Patriots all-purpose threat Marcus Jones views himself as ‘a defensive back first’

Marcus Jones earned first-team All-Pro honors as a rookie punt returner.

New England Patriots (27) Vs. Arizona Cardinals (13) at State Farm Stadium Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a span of five weeks as a New England Patriots rookie, Marcus Jones found the end zone in all three phases.

Those boxes hadn’t been checked in a single season by a player in 75 years.

There was the 84-yard punt return for a touchdown against the New York Jets. There was the 48-yard reception for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills. There was the 69-yard interception for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals.

But as explained Wednesday during an appearance on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” the former Paul Hornung Award winner values himself most at his listed position moving forward.

“I’m always a defensive back. That’s the first thing,” Jones, 24, told NFL Media’s Mike Giardi. “But like I said before, anywhere, you know, that’s needed for the team, I’m definitely down for it. But I’m a defensive back first.”

Selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft at No. 85 overall, Jones went on to earn first-team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press and All-NFL honors from the Pro Football Writers of America. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound product of Troy and Houston did so at punt returner, where he averaged 12.5 yards per and finished atop the league with 362 yards.

To go with the 164 snaps on special teams, there were 370 snaps on defense as well as 18 snaps on offense as a situational speed threat.

“It’s not a specific time. I can’t say that,” Jones said of how much practice time he spent at wide receiver last year in Foxborough. “But all I know is that whenever it came down to it and coaches were telling me to do something, I was doing it. So, I can’t really calculate how much time and everything like that because it’s a long season.”

His opportunities in New England’s passing game gave way to four receptions on four targets for 78 yards. His opportunities in New England’s secondary gave way to a pair of picks and 39 tackles across four starts.

“My main thing is every play is a different play, as well,” added Jones. “So, just taking one play at a time and just building from there, because in this league you could be playing one play and out the next play. So, you have to take every snap seriously and just keep building, like I said.”