Rookie defensive back Byron Jones continues to see his playing time increase each week as the Dallas Cowboys look to get their best defensive lineup on the field as much as possible. Jones, who can play both the cornerback and safety position on defense, has drawn the majority of his snaps as a safety so far this season. The former University of Connecticut Huskie has played about half of the team’s defensive snaps in total this season, but that role has increased as he played 40 of 53 snaps this past Sunday against the New York Giants. Jones finished with seven tackles and two passes defensed.
The majority of Jones’ playing time came in the team’s nickel and dime packages on Sunday. However, he did relieve both starting safeties J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church in the base defense at times during the game. Jones’ increased role and solid play has many wondering if the team’s first-round pick in this past April’s draft will get the starting nod.
Either way, Jones figures to be a big part of the team’s defensive game plan this week against the visiting Seattle Seahawks. When Dallas played the New England Patriots, Jones was matched up against All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and held his own allowing Gronkowski only one big play in the passing game. Jones was physical at the point of attack and impressed the coaching staff.
“Byron’s done a good job,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said at his weekly press conference with the media. “So you want to get those guys out there. He played a lot against New England, covering [Rob] Gronkowski and did a good job with that responsibility. He’s an interesting guy because he can play both corner and safety. We just wanted to give him some chances out there, and the way the plan was this week, we felt like rotating him in a series or so each half was the best way to get him out there. And I thought he handled the work well.”
The Seattle Seahawks’ offense offers another challenging tight end in Jimmy Graham. Graham has 31 receptions for 356 yards and five touchdowns. After struggling initially this season coming from the New Orleans Saints, Graham and quarterback Russell Wilson seem to be developing chemistry. Jones will need to be physical again at the point of attack as he was with Gronkowski, but will need to also deal with a more athletic player down the field in Graham. As the Cowboys try to keep their heads above water, as they wait for injured stars Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to return, the defense needs to step up. Byron Jones looks to be one of the players the coaching staff is turning to for help.