Baltimore native Cyrus Jones dreamed of playing for the Ravens as a kid. Yet, Jones never expected it to happen this way.
He was released by the New England Patriots on Saturday. He was signed to the Ravens' practice squad Monday after a Sunday phone call from Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
The week has been a blur for the 24-year-old cornerback – meetings, followed by practices, followed by nights studying the playbook. Jones is doing whatever he can to make his stay with the Ravens a long one.
"I'm blessed, man,'' said Jones, a former prep star at Gilman School in Baltimore. "It's an opportunity. I'm back home. I'm still trying to process it. Everything happened so fast. I'm ready to come here, integrate into the culture here, work hard. I'm going to try and make plays in practice and see what comes out of that."
Jones is looking to reboot his career after a tough go with the Patriots. New England released Jones despite drafting him in the second round in 2016. Jones had an immediate issue with turnovers, fumbling five punt returns as a rookie. Perhaps that put Jones in a doghouse from which he never escaped. Jones hoped to redeem himself in 2017, but tore his ACL during the preseason and missed the entire year.
It was not a shock to Jones when he was called into New England Head Coach Bill Belichick's office last weekend.
"I've been in this business a couple of years," Jones said. "I got the sense that coming off my injury from last year, I could feel the shift, that they were maybe trying to go in another direction. I had braced myself mentally for the unexpected, that anything like that could happen. Once it happened, I was like, 'Where do we go from here?' When Ozzie called me, I felt uplifted, I felt good. Time to get to work."
There is no guarantee Jones will be promoted to the 53-man roster, but things can change quickly. Veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith is suspended the first four games for violating the NFL's code of conduct policy, and cornerback Maurice Canady is dealing with a thigh injury. The Ravens still have Brandon Carr, Tavon Young, Maurice Canady, Anthony Averett and Darious Williams available at corner, but Jones could get an opportunity down the road.
Jones thinks he will transition to the Ravens' defensive system quickly.
"I feel like I'm a fast learner, a smart intelligent player," Jones said. "A lot of times the defense isn't too much different. Terminology is something you have to flip over, from one defense to the next. But if you're a football player, you know football."
Jones already feels comfortable in the Ravens' locker room, having played college football at Alabama. The Ravens have five former Alabama players on their roster – Averett, Humphrey, linebackers C. J. Mosley and Tim Williams, and offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman.
"Just to have the opportunity to reconnect with guys that I was with is pretty cool," Jones said. "To have this many of us in one locker room is a pretty special thing."
Returning to Baltimore is also special for Jones. But how will he handle all the ticket requests?
"You know how that goes," said Jones, smiling. "As long as you can say the word, 'No,' it will be all good."