IRVING, Texas – So far this season the Dallas Cowboys have done a decent job covering tight ends. In four games, they have given up just 16 catches for 121 yards and one touchdown.
Cowboys first-round pick Byron Jones has mostly been tasked with covering tight ends, and this week he gets the New England Patriots tight end has 16 caches for 308 yards and four touchdowns in three games.
“I’m doing OK,” Jones said. “I’m getting better each game as the game goes on, but this game is definitely the biggest challenge so far. Probably one of the bigger challenges throughout the entire season, so I want to show up in this game.”
It won’t be a Jones vs. Gronkowski matchup.
“Well it’s our challenge,” coach Jason Garrett, stressing the “our.” “Gronkowski is a really good football player, so we never just put one guy on him. We’ve got to try to slow their offense down a lot of different ways and he’s a big part of their offense. But just speaking towards Byron he’s done a really good job. He’s a young player. He hasn’t been in a lot of these situations yet but he was both a safety and a corner in college. He’s a very good athlete, he’s a mature guy and he hasn’t shied away from anything, whether it’s a rep against a really good player in training camp or whether it’s opportunities in the first part of the season, he always goes at 100 percent. He’s not tentative, he’s not shy. He’s a physical player who’s got some ability. So he’s learning as he goes but he’s capable of doing a lot of things and I think his approach has been really good.”
Jones is learning the difference between being open in college football and in the NFL. In watching Gronkowski, he has learned to appreciate Tom Brady.
“Tom Brady is back there throwing dimes, so you’ve got to find a way to get him covered,” Jones said. “He’s an amazing quarterback. He’s throwing to the backside and he spins around and catches it no problem as if he’s unguarded. He’s going to get some during the game but it’s about the next play and stopping him on big plays. Anything to try to limit him being a big factor during the game.”