Byron Jones’ move to cornerback after two seasons playing safety has the fourth-year player feeling energized.
And if the position switch doesn’t do it, his new secondary coach Kris Richard will.
The first-year Cowboys’ coach who had been with the Seahawks the past eight seasons, including the last three as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, has brought a burst of energy and enthusiasm that his players taking notice.
“He brings the juice every single day. There’s not a day he’s relaxed. I love it,” said Jones, who intercepted a pass in the first padded practice of training camp. “He puts the cleats on just like us and he’s out there running around, doing the drills with us so that’s the beautiful part about him.”
Richard, 38, raced to congratulate Jones on the interception.
“He’s fast,” Jones said. “I don’t know how he covers ground like that. He’s always like that. Good play or bad play, he’s going to coach you up.It’s nice to have a coach like that.”
Richard, who played six seasons in the NFL (2002-07), said moving Jones to cornerback was about doing what was best for the defense.
“Having a guy of his stature, the physicality, the speed. He’s got all the tools,” Richard said. “We just have to make sure we do all the rest, all the mental work, and all the technique work in order to put the whole package together.”
Jones said he prefers playing corner, where he started his last two seasons at Connecticut.
“I like being in someone’s face, I like the reactionary component to the game,” he said. “I love the energy from coach [Kris] Richard and the young [players].”
Richard said Jones is putting in the work necessary to make the transition smooth.
“He’s handling himself like a true professional,” Richard said. “He’s putting the time in, the effort is certainly there. He’s got an awesome level of humility, wants to be coached and he’s got a great attitude.”
As for Richard’s inspiring attitude? He just loves the game, cleats and all.
“We’re blessed to have this opportunity. I want to make sure every day when I step out here I’m doing my best to glorify the Lord. And I acknowledge that,” he said. “And how else can I do that than with my effort? And with my love and with my care? So in order to do that, I feel as though I need to put these cleats on.”