Cornerback Jonathan Jones ‘Ready to Compete in Any Way’ For Patriots in 2018

The third-year cornerback could be the answer for the Patriots in the slot this season.

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26: Jonathan Jones #31 of the New England Patriots reacts after sacking Matt Moore #8 of the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The story of Super Bowl LII was the benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler.

But an injury that occurred during the Divisional Round against Tennessee made matters a whole lot worse for the Patriots when the decision was made to sit Butler against the Eagles.

Healthy, and ready to compete, Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones is focused on improving his game in every way as the team gears up for the 2018 season.

Last season, Jones ranked third among slot defenders allowing a 54.9 completion percentage into his coverage in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus (min. 25 targets).

But the third-year corner, in true Patriots fashion, wouldn’t commit to being a slot specialist.

“I feel like anywhere they put me I’m going to try to step in and make plays. I’ll leave that up to the coaches,” Jones told CLNS Media on Tuesday.

The speedy Jones, who was surprised to hear that he’s tied with teammates Phillip Dorsett and Keion Crossen as the fastest player on the Patriots in Madden 19, admitted that his skill set fits in nicely with what the Patriots ask of their slot cornerbacks.

Defending the slot was an area of weakness for the Patriots a season ago, as they ranked second-to-last in yards allowed to receivers running out of the slot in 2017 (1,570).

Jones’ speed, quickness and tackling ability are all traits that make him an underrated slot defender in the NFL.

They’re also traits that project well on special teams, and Jones knows the importance of contributing to the kicking game in New England.

Jones played on 64.1 percent of the Patriots’ special teams snaps last season, which ranked second on the team, and racked up six special teams tackles, tied for third on the team.

When asked if he prides himself on his ability to play on special teams, the Patriots cornerback said, “Definitely. Being able to play special teams and the kicking game here is big, and I’m continuing to build on that.”

The former Auburn star projects to be one of the Patriots’ top four cornerbacks this season, and a core special teamer, as the Patriots look to fix their issues in the middle of the defense.

But as Jones put it, “nothing is ever perfect,” and the 24-year-old said he’ll continue to work on improving his game in every way as he enters his third NFL season.