Cyrus Jones

Patriots’ Cyrus Jones Likely Tore ACL

Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones likely suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during their preseason finale against the Giants on Thursday, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. Jones will undergo an MRI on Friday.

Cyrus Jones

Having started in just one of 10 appearances and made seven tackles as a second-round rookie last year, the loss of Jones wouldn’t be an enormous blow to the Patriots’ defense. New England continues to boast Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe and Justin Coleman as its top options at corner, leaving little room for Jones to make his mark defensively.

On the other hand, Jones’ absence would negatively affect the Pats’ special teams unit and could influence how Bill Belichick constructs their roster prior to the cutdown deadline on Saturday. Jones was in line to serve as New England’s No. 1 return man on both kicks and punts prior to Thursday, and a serious injury to him (on top of Julian Edelman‘s) would leave the club without an obvious in-house solution, Doug Kyed of NESN writes. The 23-year-old Jones combined for 19 kick and punt returns last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Colts, Patriots, Petty

There are plenty of pundits who expect the Colts to part ways with at least one of head coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson at season’s end, but owner Jim Irsay has downplayed the notion of major changes, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Irsay said, “I would say it would be unlikely for any changes to occur, honestly. It’s unlikely, but look, we’ll see when we sit down and thoroughly vet the season.” One reason for Irsay’s hesitation is the fact that the first five year’s of the Pagano/Andrew Luck regime has gone better than the first five years of Peyton Manning‘s career in Indianapolis.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • DT Darius Kilgo may be on the Patriots‘ practice squad, but the Pats are not paying him that way. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe in a series of Twitter links, New England is paying Kilgo $30,882 per week, which gives him the same compensation he would have received under his original contract (the practice squad minimum is $6,900 per week). The team also guaranteed him $92,647, the equivalent of three weeks pay. As Volin observes, the team is attempting to “do right” by Kilgo, who was claimed off waivers from the Broncos when it looked like Alan Branch would be suspended, but who was cut and re-signed to the practice squad when Branch won his appeal.
  • The Patriots have until Wednesday to activate quarterback Jacoby Brissett to their active roster, or he will revert to injured reserve and be lost for the season. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots do plan to activate Brissett but that they are waiting until the last possible moment to do so because they do not have an obvious corresponding roster move to make. We had previously heard that the team was expected to activate Brissett on Friday.
  • Cyrus Jones has had a disappointing rookie year for the Patriots, but the second-round selection out of Alabama is not going anywhere, as Volin writes in a separate piece. Jones, who was coveted for his return skills, has been a disaster as a return man this season, and he hasn’t fared much better as a corner. But even if he does not get much playing time the rest of the season, Jones will get the chance to right the ship in 2017.
  • Jets quarterback Bryce Petty was knocked out of last night’s loss to Miami, and initial reports suggested that he had the wind knocked out him. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reports that Petty will have a CT scan on Monday to determine if he has a punctured lung.
  • The injury that landed Jaguars TE Julius Thomas on IR was a fractured tailbone, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The Jags could save $4.7MM against the cap if they were to cut Thomas, who has disappointed since Jacksonville made him the highest-paid tight end in the game last March.
  • One reason for the Raiders‘ success this season is the fact that they have done such a good job at getting contributions from undrafted free agents. As Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com observes, Oakland started the season with four undrafted free agents on the 53-man roster, and now have seven on the active roster. That list includes players like Jalen Richard, Johnny Holton, and Marquette King.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Broncos, Woodhead

The Patriots signed Terrance Knighton to a one-year, $4.5MM deal this offseason to serve as a key cog in the interior of the club’s defensive front, but now Pot Roast is in danger of being cut, as Kevin Duffy of MassLive.com writes. Knighton struggled in the team’s second preseason game against Chicago, and he did not log a single defensive snap during New England’s third preseason contest against Carolina on Friday night.

Knighton, who insisted that he is completely healthy, expressed his frustration afterwards. He said, “It’s disappointing just because, you know, I’ve played a lot of ball in this league, seen a lot of things. I’m not going to make too much of it. It is what it is. Whatever happens, happens. If I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, I’m not. I’m just taking it a day at a time.”

If Knighton does indeed receive his walking papers, he should be able to find work with a club looking for a dependable and durable run-stuffer.

Now for some more notes from the AFC:

  • It’s looking more and more like Patriots WR Danny Amendola will stay on the PUP list and miss at least the first six games of the regular season, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe.
  • The Patriots had assigned rookie corner Cyrus Jones the same grade as several other players who were still available when the club was set to make its first draft pick (No. 60 overall) this year. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, the team selected Jones because of his dynamic return ability, which he demonstrated in a big way with a 60-yard punt return Friday night. Reiss points out that Jones taking over the role could help preserve 30-year old returners Julian Edelman and Amendola from taking additional pounding.
  • Trevor Siemian likely cemented his status as the Broncos‘ starting quarterback after turning in a solid performance during last night’s preseason victory over Los Angeles, Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. At this point Klis would be surprised if the Broncos didn’t release Mark Sanchez, a move that would save the team $4.5MM and a seventh-round pick.
  • Troy Renck of Denver7 believes that Tavon Austin‘s new four-year, $42MM deal with Los Angeles will set the floor in Emmanuel Sanders‘ contract negotiations with the Broncos (Twitter link). As Renck observes, Sanders is older than Austin, but his production level has thus far been superior.
  • Danny Woodhead is entering the final year of the two-year extension he signed with the Chargers in 2014, and he would like to remain with the club long-term, as Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune writes. However, contract talks between team and player prior to training camp were unproductive, with the Chargers determining it was not in position to extend Woodhead for a variety of cited factors, including cash committed to other contracts this year. Woodhead, though, will not publicly comment on his contract situation, and simply indicated a desire to focus on the 2016 season.

Impact Rookies: New England Patriots

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the New England Patriots’ draft class:

In a tradition started by Jimmy Johnson during his days with Dallas, lots of NFL teams use what is called a draft “value board” in their war rooms. Based on the selections made by the coaching genius of Bill Belichick, analysts might be scratching their heads over the Patriots’ decisions during this past draft.

Deflategate left the team with no choice in the opening round, but in what has been Belichick’s pattern over the years, he put on his “Trader Jack” hat before and during the draft proceedings in attempts to improve his roster. In mid-March, the team made a surprising move, trading away one of the defense’s cornerstones in Chandler Jones for oft-injured offensive guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick.

The Patriots flipped that No. 61 overall pick to the Saints, netting the Saints’ third (No. 78) and fourth-round (No. 112) selections. Even with Cooper in the fold and starters Shaquille Mason (left side) and Tre’ Jackson (right) stationed as the starters, New England added to their guard cache in the third round by taking North Carolina State’s Joe Thuney. Thuney is likely to caddy for Shaquille Mason on the left side and while he could prove to be a reliable backup, he’s not likely to make waves in 2016. However, we do see these two Pats rookies leaving a mark in their first NFL season:

Continue reading about the Patriots’ rookie class..

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Patriots Reach Deals With Five Draftees

1:32pm: Patriots third-round offensive lineman Joe Thuney has also signed his rookie deal, as Ben Volin of The Boston Globe tweets. For Thuney, it’ll be a four-year deal worth $3.54MM with a signing bonus of $773K. The offensive lineman out of North Carolina State drew interest from clubs thanks to his versatility — he started all along the O-Line in college.

1:28pm: The Patriots aren’t wasting any time locking up their 2016 draft class, having already reached deals with four of their draftees from last weekend, including top pick Cyrus Jones, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.New England Patriots general helmet (Featured)

Fourth-round receiver Malcolm Mitchell, sixth-round offensive lineman Ted Karras, and seventh-round wideout Devin Lucien have also agreed to terms with New England, according to reports from ESPN’s Adam Caplan, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, and ESPN’s Mike Reiss, respectively (all Twitter links).

The rookie contracts for the four draft picks who have reached agreements with the Pats will look like this, per Over The Cap:

  • 2-60: Cyrus Jones, DB (Alabama): $4.007MM total value, $1.114MM signing bonus
  • 4-112: Malcolm Mitchell, WR (Georgia): $2.918MM total value, $578K signing bonus
  • 6-221: Ted Karras, OL (Illinois): $2.17MM total value, $100K signing bonus
  • 7-225: Devin Lucien, WR (Arizona State): $2.425MM total value, $85K signing bonus

With four draftees having agreed to terms, the Pats still have more than half of their nine-man draft class to lock up, including two third-round picks — quarterback Jacoby Brissett and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine.

Although contracts for third-rounders can sometimes be trickier to negotiate than deals for later-round picks, Brissett appears to be proceeding without any formal representation. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes (via Twitter) that the signal-caller is being advised by Abe Elam, but doesn’t officially have an agent.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Rumors: Steelers, Patriots, Easley, Texans

The Steelers have used the majority of their pre-draft visits within the last week, and announced several more today. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, the following players were in Pittsburgh today to meet with the club: Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones, West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, Virginia Tech linebacker Dadi Nicolas, Colorado cornerback Ken Crawley, Maryland safety Sean Davis, and Boston College safety Justin Simmons.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams is visiting with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium today, sources tell Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (on Twitter). The Pats previously met with the tailback at the combine. Williams, 22, missed the 2015 regular season after undergoing foot surgery. In 2014, he racked up 1,190 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground despite splitting carries.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Dominique Easley has hired agents Drew Rosenhaus and Michael Katz of Rosenhaus Sports for representation, as Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. Easley, 23, has been plagued by injuries since being selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. In December of last season, he was placed on IR with a leg injury. In his injury-shortened sophomore year, Easley totaled 15 tackles and two sacks as a part-time player.
  • Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant is visiting the Texans, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle writes. The wide receiver/kick returner has also worked out for the Dolphins, Colts, and Jets. Grant returned four kicks for touchdowns over the course of his collegiate career with the Red Raiders and caught 90 passes for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: J. Smith, Washington, Pats, Saints

If Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith gets good news on his medical re-check later this month, his chances of going in the first round of the draft will increase significantly, writes Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com. Campbell lists the Bengals, Chiefs, Packers, Texans and Vikings as potential landing spots for Smith, who is on the mend from a torn ACL and MCL that he suffered on New Year’s Day during the Fiesta Bowl. Prior to that catastrophic end to his college career, Smith was seen as a surefire first-rounder – and a high one at that – but his status has been in question since. February’s combine didn’t help matters for Smith, who reportedly failed multiple teams’ physicals.

More of the latest draft news:

  • Washington is bearish on a pair of prospective first-round defensive linemen from Alabama, A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed, team sources told Campbell.
  • While Washington may be down on Robinson and Reed, it has a high opinion of Ohio State receiver Michael Thomas, reportedly the top wideout on its board. In addition to Washington, Thomas is drawing interest from the Cowboys, Rams and Saints, per Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick worked out Maryland defensive back Sean Davis and then watched film with him Friday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones joined Davis in working out for the Patriots on Friday, a league source told Aaron Wilson of NFPost.com. The Steelers will host Jones this weekend, and he also has visits scheduled with the Bills, Ravens and Saints. He visited the Eagles earlier this week.
  • Boise State defensive end/outside linebacker Kamalei Correa will visit the 49ers and Saints in the coming days, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.Net tweets.
  • Earlier this evening, PFR published its first mock draft of the year. Click here to read Rob DiRe’s current first-round predictions and – as a bonus – his take on New England’s back-to-back second-rounders.

Extra Points: Wisniewski, Fuchs, Cards, Vikings

The one-year contract for new Eagles offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski is worth slightly more than the $2.5MM he earned from Jacksonville last season, a source tells Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. Still, Wisniewski was somewhat disappointed that he couldn’t land a longer-term deal this offseason.

“It’s been tough,” Wisniewski said. “I certainly was hoping to sign a long-term deal for some good money. I thought I’d played well enough to deserve that – a lot of people did. It just kind of didn’t work out, with circumstances and whatnot.”

Wisniewski, who said the Jaguars were “kind of lowballing me, to be honest,” is hoping to parlay his one-year pact with the Eagles into a multiyear agreement in Philadelphia or elsewhere in 2017, tweets Alex Marvez of FOX Sports. In order to have a chance to do that, Wisniewski will probably have to win the starting left guard job — otherwise, his playing time could depend on the health of center Jason Kelce.

Here are a few more Tuesday odds and ends from around the NFL…

  • Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs told Patrick Davison of Sky Sports that he has “ambitions to become an NFL kicker.” The 29-year-old isn’t planning on moving on from soccer quite yet, but when he does, he believes he could potentially make the transition to American football. “If NFL managers want a footballer in their team, I know I can kick a 60-yard field goal,” Fuchs said. “Let’s see. Dreams can come true you know if you don’t dream you won’t reach anything.”
  • Virginia Tech defensive end/linebacker Dadi Nicolas visited the Cardinals on Tuesday, as Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. The Cardinals also worked out Portland State long snapper Kameron Canaday – for a second time – and Portland State cornerback Aaron Sibley, tweets Getlin.
  • The Vikings are hosting Vanderbilt pass rusher Stephen Weatherly on a pre-draft visit, and are also bringing in Clemson safety T.J. Green, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter links). Wolfson adds that Green – who visited Arizona on Monday – will also make a trip to Pittsburgh to meet with the Steelers.
  • Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones visited with the Eagles today, Geoff Mosher of 97.5 The Fanatic tweets.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: Ramsey, Alexander, Ravens, Steelers

The Titans, who hold the top pick in this year’s draft, have scheduled a visit with Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, writes Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. Most expect the Titans to take Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil first overall, but they’re nonetheless doing their homework on Ramsey. Should Ramsey get past the Titans, he’ll have a potential suitor in the Cowboys, who pick fourth and have already met with him, tweets Rand Getlin of NFL.com.

More draft news. . .

  • In addition to his previously reported visit with San Francisco, Clemson cornerback and prospective first-round pick Mackensie Alexander will meet with the NFC West rival Rams, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.
  • Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones worked out for the Ravens on Friday, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets. Jones, who projects as a slot cornerback and a return specialist, is viewed as a third- to fourth-round pick. The Baltimore-area native has said that playing for the Ravens would be a “dream come true.” In total, the Ravens had about 40 to 50 players in for a workout, including Jones and two Maryland defenders – Sean Davis (DB) and Quinton Jefferson (DT) – Zrebiec tweets.
  • The Steelers hosted four prospects Friday – safeties Deon Bush (Miami) and Jeremy Cash (Duke), Georgia Tech cornerback David White, and LSU offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins – per Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Hawkins is the second O-lineman the Steelers have met with over the last two days, joining Indiana’s Jason Spriggs (link via Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com).
  • The Buccaneers sent offensive line coach George Warhop to Cincinnati on Friday to work out tackle Justin Murray, reports Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).
  • The Vikings had an assistant spend time on Thursday after Washington’s pro day with linebacker Travis Feeney, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. Feeney had a strong showing at the combine but, unfortunately, had to undergo hernia surgery afterward.
  • Miami defensive lineman Ufomba Kamalu has picked up interest from the Chargers, Panthers, Eagles, Cardinals, and Broncos, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News (via Twitter).
  • The Titans and Vikings met with Indiana defensive tackle Darius Latham on Friday, Pauline reports. Off-field issues, including two suspensions in college, could hurt Latham’s draft stock. If not, he might go as high as the third round.
  • UTEP defender Roy Robertson-Harris is drawing attention, having met with the 49ers and Panthers. He also has visits and/or workouts scheduled with the Raiders, Chiefs, Bears and Vikings.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Draft Rumors: Wentz, 49ers, Chargers, Titans

Here’s the latest on the incoming prospect pool and the interested teams.

  • Hue Jackson will attend Carson Wentz‘s pro day Thursday but won’t trek to Memphis to observe Paxton Lynch‘s due to the Browns being in “training mode” by the time Lynch throws for scouts April 6, according to ESPNCleveland.com’s Tony Grossi (on Twitter).
  • The 49ers have used some of their 30 permitted visits on several top prospects, including cornerbacks Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports. Ole Miss first-round prospects Laquon Treadwell and Robert Nkemdiche are also among players the 49ers, who hold the No. 7 pick, has met with or plans to.
  • Toledo wide receiver Alonzo Russell will work out for the Cowboys after previously meeting with the Packers, Aaron Wilson of National Football Post reports. Russell totaled 13 touchdowns and more than 1,300 receiving yards during his junior and senior seasons.
  • Ex-Alabama cornerback/kick returner Cyrus Jones has a full itinerary, with visits with the Ravens, Eagles, Bills and Saints lined up, Wilson reports (on Twitter). Jones also has private workouts with the Buccaneers and Panthers scheduled, per Wilson.
  • Mississippi State tight end Darrion Hutcherson will visit the Chargers, per Wilson. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Hutcherson played in 26 games for the Bulldogs, logging just six starts.
  • The Chargers are also set to meet with former Buffalo tackle John Kling, Wilson tweets. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Bulls lineman played right and left tackle in his five years at the university.
  • The Titans plan to host Ohio State safety Vonn Bell on a workout, Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com tweets. The 5-11, 205-pound early-entry safety made six interceptions as a sophomore in 2014 after joining the Buckeyes in 2013 as a five-star recruit.
  • Former Minnesota linebacker De’Vondre Campbell will visit the nearby professional franchise, with the Vikings summit on April 5-6, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. A fifth-year senior, Campbell recorded 92 tackles for the Gophers while also registering a team-high four sacks last season.
  • The Colts are hosting former Arkansas linebacker Myke Tavarres, who transferred to Incarnate Word, on an April 7 visit, Wilson tweets.
  • The Buccaneers are set to host North Carolina Central defensive back Ryan Smith on a visit, Wilson reports (on Twitter).