After a 30-6 drubbing at the hands of the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, the Cowboys don’t have many bright spots to point to. But one clear one was Byron Jones, the Cowboys’ 2015 first round pick out of Connecticut, who spent most of Sunday covering All-everything tight end Rob Gronkowski and actually held his own.
It’s not that Gronkowski was shut down. He’s never shut down. But for a rookie to draw maybe the worst assignment in the NFL, then hold Gronk to four catches and 67 yards--well, that isn’t bad.
“He competed with him,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said of Jones, per ESPN Dallas. “He challenged him.”
Gronk’s biggest contribution came in the third quarter, when Tom Brady hit him for 33 yards on a play that spurred the Pats’ first touchdown drive of the second half. He also gave Jones a pretty good shove before the ball got there, but no call was made. He also had a 16-yard catch.
“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.”
Overall, Garrett gave Jones the thumbs-up for his work Sunday.
“[Gronkowski] 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.”