Jones finds comfort zone with Bengals
CINCINNATI (AP) — Adam “Pacman” Jones is finally in a comfortable place, playing up to expectations after years of digging his career out from another mess.
And he’s thinking big for whatever time he has left.
The cornerback has developed into a regular with the Cincinnati Bengals, who gave him a final chance after years of off-field problems and missed opportunities. He’s an important part of a defense that finished sixth last season in yards allowed.
The 29-year-old cornerback has not only revived his career after a year out of football, he’s starting to embellish it.
“And the story ain’t written all the way yet,” Jones said on Wednesday following one of the team’s offseason workouts. “So we’ll see.”
His story was mostly a bad drama after Tennessee took him with the sixth overall pick in 2005. He repeatedly got in trouble off the field, resulting in repeated suspensions. He missed the entire 2007 season on suspension and sat out the 2009 season when no NFL team was interested.
The Bengals gave him a final chance, and he has taken advantage of it. Jones started five games last season and played in all of them. He also returned punts, running one back 81 yards against the Browns for his first touchdown since 2003.
He’s found a home.
“It’s been great,” Jones said. “I’ve got a lot of guys in the locker room that I can trust. The people upstairs (in the front office) have been great. With the injuries I’ve had, they’ve had me stick around.”
In addition to signing him for the 2010 season, they stuck with him after he damaged a disc in his neck and missed nearly a year. He also missed time with a hamstring injury.
He has played in 29 games overall with the Bengals, starting 13 of them.
Coach Marvin Lewis said one of the biggest changes in Jones has been the way he now studies the game. He understands defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s methods better, allowing him to be in the right spot and do the right thing.
“Really, before I got here I just relied on straight athleticism and ability,” Jones said. “With Zim, you have to know what you’re going to get out of certain formations, know when you are getting the ball toward your way, know what different offenses are trying to attack when we’re in certain calls.”
Jones would love to get deep into the playoffs — the Bengals have lost to Houston in the first round each of the last two seasons. He thinks Cincinnati’s defense, which added linebacker James Harrison in the offseason, is good enough to do it.
“If we can keep everybody healthy, we should have a good run at it,” he said.
Harrison, who left the rival Steelers after they failed to agree on a restructured contract, has been learning the defense a little more each day during two weeks of OTA workouts. Harrison said the switch from Pittsburgh’s 3-4 alignment to Cincinnati’s 4-3 hasn’t been much of an adjustment. He expects to have a little different role, however.
“I think I’ll be covering a little less here,” Harrison said on Wednesday.
“I believe they’ll have me rushing (the passer) a little more than I have been in Pittsburgh the previous few years.”
Lewis thinks the switch is going smoothly for Harrison.
“I’ve watched James since he’s been in the league,” said Lewis, a former assistant coach in Pittsburgh. “Each week we’re playing the common opponents and so forth. So he’s a great fit and an easy fit to plug and play with what we’re doing.
“A lot of our principles are identical to what he learned as a player in Pittsburgh, some things that I have transferred through the years. So it’s been a pretty easy transition for him. And as he keeps going, we keep having an opportunity to expand on his skills and his ability in what we do defensively.”
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