For the first time since his senior year at Gilman, Cyrus Jones will play in his hometown of Baltimore, but this time as a member of the Ravens when they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium at 4:05 p.m.
“It’s going to be a great feeling, something I’ve been looking forward to since I was a kid,” the cornerback/return specialist said before Thursday afternoon’s practice. “So I’m sure I’ll be pumped up, especially as it gets closer to game time. So I’m just trying to focus on what I’ve got to do and not get too excited about it. I just want to maintain my poise and go out there and execute and do my job.”
One of Jones’ responsibilities is returning punts, and he averaged 12.5 yards on four returns in Sunday’s 21-0 shutout of the Tennessee Titans. His third return was his longest, traveling 26 yards.
Jones has returned nine punts this season for an average of 10.6 yards, which ranks seventh in the NFL. Perhaps as importantly, he did not fumble the ball Sunday, a habit that hampered predecessors Janarion Grant and Tim White and contributed to their demotions to the practice squad and Jones’ return to the team after the New England Patriots released him Oct. 6.
“That’s something where I think I can help the team and just provide an impact type of play back there every chance I get the ball,” said Jones, 24. “The most important thing is to possess the ball and after that, use the talent that God gave me.”
Jones also downed a punt by punter Sam Koch at Tennessee’s 2-yard line in the third quarter and assisted rookie linebacker Chris Board in tackling Titans kicker returner and fellow Gilman grad Darius Jennings in the first quarter – the latter of which was shown to the team as an example of execution and hustle.
“He got off to a good start,” special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg said. “The thing I like best about it [is that] he looked like he was poised, he was under control, under the ball, handled the ball well, made a couple guys miss, got a few extra yards. There’s room for growth, but it got off to a good start. I particularly like the fact that he made a tackle in kickoff coverage, and he played gunner for us.”
Jones said his objective is to build on last week for Sunday’s game against New Orleans. He said he does not anticipate more than 20 family and friends to attend the game.
“Nothing too crazy,” he said. “I’m good at saying no. So people don’t really reach out to me too, too much.”