FOXBORO, Mass. -- There was some mystery about who would play quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs in their game against the New England Patriots.
There was none about who would try to knock down that quarterback's passes as New England's free safety on Monday night.
It's Tebucky Jones, who finally has found his role after spending two mediocre NFL seasons moving between cornerback and safety as he started just two games.
"He's done a pretty solid job," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He's made steady improvement."
New England already has two Pro Bowl players in the secondary, cornerback Ty Law and strong safety Lawyer Milloy.
"I knew it was going to take him (Jones) time" to develop, Chiefs coach Gunther Cunningham said. The Patriots "move around well on defense, but I think we've played those kind of teams before."
Passing is the strength of the Chiefs' offense, especially when Elvis Grbac plays quarterback.
He is 3-1 in Monday night games, but was listed as questionable. He was optimistic he would play after a finger injury kept him out of a 17-16 loss to San Diego in Kansas City's last game as Warren Moon struggled in his place.
The Chiefs (5-7) have lost their last four games, but have a strong receiving corps with Tony Gonzalez, Derrick Alexander and Sylvester Morris. With Grbac throwing, the challenge would be much greater for the Patriots secondary.
"They've switched up a couple of guys here and there but, definitely, they're solid," Grbac said. "It doesn't matter what their record is or what the situation is, they constantly play hard and they play sound defense."
The Patriots (3-9) have lost five of their last six. For much of his career, Jones also has been a disappointment since being drafted in the first round in 1998 out of Syracuse, where he was a running back until playing safety for the first time as a senior.
Then, the Patriots tried to make him a cornerback.
"I feel I've come a long way, especially playing safety one year in college then coming here and playing corner for two years then moving back" to safety, said Jones, the starting free safety the past four games. "I feel the groove is starting to come back a little.
"You've got two Pro Bowlers out there. I'm learning from them."
Jones has been a productive special teams player throughout his career. This season, he's the fourth player to start at free safety.
"He's been pretty much in the lineup the last few weeks and I think that's the way it'll stay," Belichick said.
The Patriots went into the weekend ranked 16th against the pass and 22nd against the run. The Chiefs were tied for fourth in passing offense and look to become the 12th team in 13 games to throw at least one touchdown pass against New England.
Kansas City's defense has been worse than New England's. It is ranked 25th against the run and 20th against the pass. But it also has a surprising bright spot in its secondary. Rookie Greg Wesley, a third-round pick from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, has started all 12 games at strong safety and is third on the team in tackles.
"What people don't realize is how many young players we've got and new coaches on this staff," Cunningham said. "Greg Wesley's one of the top safeties I've ever seen after just three-quarters of a year."
It took Jones much longer, but he's finally found a home on defense.
"I feel happy to be out there playing, but a little sad just because of the losing," he said.
For Belichick, fixing the free safety problem means his long list of concerns is reduced by one.
"As long as he continues to improve, then that opportunity will be there" for Jones to handle that spot for a long time, Belichick said. "There's still some upside that can be reached."
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