In the Patriots’ first three games, Gronkowski caught four touchdown passes and had at least 94 receiving yards.
Against the Cowboys, shadowed mostly by Jones (first-round pick), Gronkowski had four catches for 67 yards.
“He competed with him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He challenged him.”
The Patriots moved Gronkowski around, playing him on the line, tucked tight to the line of scrimmage, in the slot and out wide. Wherever he went, Jones mostly followed.
In the first half, Gronkowski had just one catch for 6 yards on a slant. On the second play of the second half, Tom Brady hit Gronkowski, who lined up wide, on a back-shoulder throw that picked up 33 yards.
“I was playing aggressive over the top most of the game so that was a good adjustment,” Jones said.
Gronkowski gave Jones a nudge before the pass arrived.
“It’s tough,” Jones said. “[You have to] get your eyes back so you can play the ball. … You may not make a play on the ball but you may hit his hands or something like that and try to off-balance the receiver.”
At 6-6, 265 pounds, it’s difficult for a 205-pound defensive back to get Gronkowski off balance. Later on during the opening drive of the second half, Brady hit Gronkowski on a slant for 16 yards with Jones riding him down the field.
“He did have some receptions later on in the game that were big, but we put him out there and gave him a chance to cover him,” Garrett said. “I think he did a pretty good job.”