Tide’s Jones developing into dependable cornerback

first_imgTUSCALOOSA — Cyrus Jones shows more and more potential each week and turned into a shut-down cornerback by midseason.The Alabama football team needed more players to take over as mainstays in the secondary, and Jones became the first to do so at corner.He’s started every game this season and is sixth on the team tackles with 17.However, it’s his coverage skills that the seventh-ranked Crimson Tide need, especially Saturday afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium against No. 21 Texas A&M.Jones must take away one of the four receivers running routes each play. Coach Nick Saban depends on him to go solo so the double teams can go elsewhere.“Cyrus has really played well, has been very consistent,” Saban said. “He’s a really good athlete, he’s got good ball skills, can tackle well, he’s tough and he’s done a pretty good job of covering for the most part.”Jones has four pass breakups, tied for the defensive back lead with standout safety Landon Collins.He also has two forced fumbles, one of which he recovered and returned 17 yards for a touchdown against Ole Miss.“I think I played OK,” Jones said. “I definitely need to get better in a lot of ways, but I’ve made a couple plays.”Jones, a junior from Baltimore, started out as a receiver with Alabama his freshman season and played some.He moved to cornerback last season. As the position went through several changes due to injury and young players struggling, Jones emerged as someone with potential.He played in 11 games and started five last season. Jones learned on the job and made his mistakes. They are less now as he settles into the position.“All those things that we try to teach guys, they don’t first of all have maybe the kind of appreciation or see the importance in it,” Saban said. “But after they play some, they actually see where this could be very beneficial, and I think it’s just called competitive maturity.”Jones faced criticism for several mistakes last year, and he was in and out of the lineup for them.Being the last line of defense the defensive backs came under heavy scrutiny.“He’s a lot more confident and he knows what to do,” Saban said. “He’s got a lot better discipline in terms of eye control and because of the experience he got playing last year, I think he’s a lot more mature about how he approaches playing because he understands what it takes to play well.”His big breakthrough game was against Ole Miss. He was disappointed in the loss but excelled beyond his touchdown.Jones covered one of the top receivers in the SEC in Laquon Treadwell and held him five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.He broke up two crucial passes and contained Treadwell to force passes elsewhere.“I think I definitely proved something, not really to myself, but a lot of people just because he’s one of the better receivers we have in our conference,” Jones said. “I know that the DBs on our team, we get kind of ridiculed a lot, so it was good to come out and play well against one of the best receivers in our conference and make plays. I was glad that I played well against him, but I’m definitely not satisfied because I know I can get better and we all can get better.”The secondary has been a work in progress for the last two years with several big plays given up.A lack of communication is typically to blame, but that comes up when younger players are forced to play due to injuries and suspensions.“I think that we’re progressing pretty well,” Jones said. “Last year around this time, it was kind of the same. We had a couple young players in the secondary as we do this year. So I think it’s all about us being on the same page and growing together as the weeks progress.”Players are getting healthy and more established such as Jones. Collins leads the secondary, but now Jones emerged next two him.Nick Perry has been stable at the other safety, but the other cornerback spot is still being contested between Eddie Jackson and Tony Brown.“Eddie played well in the last game,” Saban said. “Tony played a couple of games. Eddie’s played a couple of games now. I think Eddie’s healthier, and they’ll continue to compete. We’ll decide based on who we think can do the best job for Alabama on Saturday as to who we play.”All of them must be ready Saturday against the Aggies.last_img

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