FOXBOROUGH — When last we saw Cyrus Jones in a Patriots uniform, the rookie cornerback was ejected for fighting in a blowout victory over the Browns in Week 5.
Officials deemed Jones threw a punch at Andrew Hawkins after the Cleveland receiver appeared to go for Jones’s knees on a block. No punch was ever found on tape, however, and Jones wasn’t fined by the NFL.
The ejection came a week after Jones had a couple of kickoff return hiccups in New England’s 16-0 loss to the Bills. On the opening kick, Jones almost took a knee at the 1-yard line. On his next attempt, he fielded a kick 4 yards deep and was dropped at the 14-yard line.
It was a tough two-game stretch for the former Alabama star.
Since then, New England’s top draft pick had been a healthy scratch four straight weeks, but returned to the lineup for Sunday night’s matchup against the Seahawks.
Jones fielded the opening kickoff but took a knee. The Patriots then embarked on a nine-play, 75-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead.
The Patriots have been working through a rotation of Logan Ryan, Eric Rowe, and Justin Coleman as they try to settle their depth chart behind No. 1 corner Malcolm Butler.
To his credit, Jones, who had never been a healthy scratch in Tuscaloosa, hasn’t pouted and has faced the music when asked about his recent struggles.
“What I can do is keep showing up and working hard,’’ said Jones, who has been sporting a black jersey the last two weeks after being named a practice player of the week. “I try not to worry about things I can’t control. I just go out there and do my job.’’
Jones acknowledged this week “it’s been frustrating” not to be on their field on game days but insisted he’ll be ready when his number gets called again.
“I still know what I can do,’’ said Jones, who said he’s received lots of support from his teammates and coaches over the last month. “I’m still very confident in myself.”
Jones returned one kickoff 43 yards but fumbled as he was tackled. He was fortunate that special teams ace Nate Ebner made a rugby-style recovery on the play. He also returned a pair of punts for 4 yards but didn’t see any time on defense.
“Our ball security is not what it needs to be,’’ said coach Bill Belichick.
Despite being added to the 53-man roster on Saturday, running back Dion Lewis was one of seven inactives.
Lewis has been a regular at practices since coming off the physically unable to perform list Oct. 26.
His addition to the roster indicates the decision to hold him out is not based on a physical setback, but rather just the team being cautious.
“Yeah, he’s working hard,’’ Belichick said Friday when asked about Lewis’s status. “I think this is what he needs — to be around football. Rehabbing and running up hills and doing pushups and all that. I mean it’s great, but that’s not playing football. He’s gotten a lot of good football snaps over the last however many days it’s been.’’
Belichick added on his pregame radio appearance that Lewis’s “health is good.’’
The other Patriots inactives Sunday night were: Rowe, running back D.J. Foster, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, tight end Matt Lengel, and offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle.
The Seahawks inactives included defensive end Michael Bennett, offensive tackle Bradley Sowell, guard Rees Odhiambo, safety Tyvis Powell, tight end Luke Willson, running back Thomas Rawls, and receiver Tanner McEvoy.
After his coach and quarterback got embroiled in presidential politics, Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft stayed neutral in a pregame interview Sunday.
“The brand and the business of the New England Patriots didn’t endorse anybody or anything,” Kraft said during a radio appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Kraft, asked if the Patriots had any policy that would discourage employees from publicly endorsing candidates, said they did not. Coach Bill Belichick wrote a supportive letter to President-elect Donald Trump, which Trump read at a New Hampshire rally the day before the election.
Tom Brady also has said that Trump is a friend, though he would not say if he gave Trump permission to publicly count him as a political supporter, which Trump did.
Kraft was far chattier about his own organization’s leadership. He said he roots for Pete Carroll, now the coach of the Seahawks, whom the Kraft family hired to replace Bill Parcells as the Patriots coach in 1997.
“Growing up I hated USC and when Pete got there I became a USC fan. Pete’s, aside from being an exceptional football coach, a great guy,” Kraft said.
The Kraft family assumed ownership of the Patriots in 1994, the first year of the salary cap, and clashed with Parcells over how to manage it. When Parcells left, cap management was one of the main reasons the Krafts turned to Carroll.
“He understood that the cap was critical and understood that there needed to be strategic things done with that aside from being a great X’s and O’s coach,” Kraft said.
Kraft said that Carroll’s tenure, which lasted until 1999, helped his family learn the value of having a coach who is trusted to handle personnel.
“Pete showed that divided football operations, meaning at least for us, GM, head coach, it wasn’t working for us,” Kraft said.
Asked about the trade of Jamie Collins, Kraft stayed true to his world and deflected to Belichick.
“I think Bill’s gotta talk about that stuff,” Kraft said. “I will say, Jamie as a human being, really great guy.”
Gronk hit hard
Martellus Bennett recorded the fifth 100-yard receiving game of his career, his third this season. He and Gronkowski matched up well with Seattle’s terrific safety tandem of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, the latter of whom hit Gronkowski with what Gronkowski said was “one of the hardest times I got hit in my career. A good, clean hit. He just knocked the wind out of me for a minute or two. Once you come back, you’re good. You are going to get laid out eventually.” He missed five plays . . . Tough night for Justin Coleman; he was burned by Tyler Lockett for a 36-yard catch, picked up a 20-yard pass interference call, and received a personal foul for clipping . . . The Patriots suffered a rare loss in the turnover battle (Brady pick, Julian Edelman fumble). “We were minus-2 tonight,’’ said Belichick. “That’s not really a good formula.” . . . Trey Flowers had two sacks to give him four in the last two games. He eclipsed Jabaal Sheard (3½) for the team lead. Sheard didn’t play in the first two series and was a non-factor in a rotational role . . . Chris Hogan (three targets) was held catchless. Danny Amendola had one catch for 14 yards.
Passing mark, then a pick
Brady (Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett ) set an NFL record to start a season going 258 passes without throwing an interception. The streak was snapped on an ill-advised pass down the left sideline for Malcolm Mitchell that was underthrown and picked off by DeShawn Shead . . . Stephen Gostkowski hit his only field goal and all three of his PATs but did have one hiccup when his first kickoff went out of bounds, giving Seattle the ball at the 40. The Seahawks scored on the possession — a 27-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka.
Three from Blount
LeGarrette Blount tied a career-high with three rushing touchdowns. He also had three last season against Jacksonville. Blount has scored in eight of nine games this season. Linebacker Shea McClellin blocked a Hauschka PAT in the second quarter . . . Defensive end Trey Flowers made his first career start and recorded his second straight two-sack game. Long snapper Joe Cardona, a Naval Academy grad, had a nice tackle on a punt return on Salute to Service night. He celebrated by saluting special teams captain Matthew Slater . . . For the second straight game, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who is on injured reserve, was on the field observing the other QBs during warm-ups . . . Defensive tackle Alan Branch is the lone former Seahawk on the Patriots roster. He played in Seattle from 2011-12 . . . Seahawks defensive tackle Sealver Siliga played for the Patriots from 2013-15 and linebacker Dewey McDonald played one game for New England last season . . . Seattle linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis is a Stamford, Conn., native and was a standout at Boston College . . . The Patriots celebrated their “Salute to Service” game Sunday night. The national anthem was performed by the United States Coast Guard Brass and the colors were presented by the Unites States Marine Corps Honor Guard from Fort Devens . . . Also, Gronkowski wore a camouflage sleeve on his left arm.