NFL preseason starts inauspiciously for New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones

New England’s first preseason game of 2017 had a promising aspect to it for Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones, although nobody seemed to notice because of his involvement in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ highlight-reel plays.

The good news was the former Alabama standout had six kickoff returns and one punt return without mishandling the football on Thursday night. Last season, Jones had 11 punt returns and eight kickoffs returns and registered five fumbles or muffs in the 19 times the ball was in his hands.

“I’m feeling pretty confident,” Jones said¬†last week before the preseason opener. “You gain confidence by coming out here and being consistent at practice. And I haven’t been doing anything special — just come out here and keep stringing good days together and keep the ball off the ground. …

“Stringing good days together eventually becomes a habit. Consistency, that’s where it builds from.”

On the other hand Thursday night, Jones was the cornerback covering Jacksonville wide receiver Keelan Cole on a 97-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and wide receiver Dede Westbrook when he caught a 42-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left in the third quarter. Westbrook’s TD proved to be the difference in the Jaguars’ 31-24 victory.

Jones might have been expecting coverage help from a safety down the field, but such scheme explanations were lost in the video of Jones trailing Jacksonville receivers on their way to the end zone.

Jones also was on the periphery of Jacksonville running back Corey Grant’s 79-yard touchdown sprint in the third quarter after the Patriots had rallied to tie the game. Grant played at Opelika High School and Auburn.