First practice with Bengals marks Jones’ return after 1-year absence
GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Pacman Jones was a celebrated first-round draft choice whose career was sidetracked for violating the NFL’s personal code of conduct.
Adam Jones is just a cornerback trying to prove to the Cincinnati Bengals that the talent of “Pacman” remains, minus the baggage.
The 26-year-old Jones is attempting a comeback after sitting out all of last season when none of the league’s 32 teams would take a chance on him.
“I’ve got a lot to work on,” said Jones, following his first day of practice with the Bengals at Georgetown College. “It was my first time playing press coverage in two years, so it was a tough first day. I was on the ground way too many times. But it’s good to have a first day.”
Tennessee made Jones the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft, and he started 28 games in his first two seasons with the Titans. In the last three years, however, he has played in just nine. He missed the entire 2007 season with the first of two league-mandated suspensions.
The Titans traded Jones to Dallas before the 2008 draft, but an alcohol-related altercation with a bodyguard the Cowboys provided for him cost Jones another six games and, eventually, his job.
Two workouts during this offseason showed the Bengals enough that they signed Jones in May to a two-year contract worth the league minimum. He is battling for playing time behind starters Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall in a defensive unit that ranked fourth overall in the NFL last season in yards allowed.
He’s listed No. 2 on the depth chart behind Joseph, but depth charts are nothing more than names written in pencil this time of the year.
“His transition will be to play snap-after-snap football and prove that he can do that in a competitive environment all of the time,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “He needs to be a disciplined player play in and play out, and execute the techniques and things we’re asking him to do.”
The hoopla surrounding the acquisition and arrival of free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens last week kept the spotlight away from Jones. The players were teammates in Dallas.
“He’s a lot quieter,” said Owens of the difference between Adam and “Pacman.”
“Everybody knows their own abilities. He’s been out of football for a little bit so it’s going to take him some time to get his timing back, but as training camp progresses you get your timing back. When you’re drafted in the first round, that tells you about your talent level. You just have to play up to those expectations.”
Adam Jones, like the rest of his new teammates, walks through a row of autograph seekers after every training camp practice. There are still shouts of “Pacman” from the crowd. They bring a wry smile to Jones’ face, but it’s the shouts of “Adam” that catch his attention and bring him to a halt. For those people, he’ll sign.