This is how much talent Adam Jones has:
Think of all the headlines he has generated down through the years. From being the sixth pick in the draft in 2005 to being suspended for the 2007 season, to his comebacks with the Cowboys and Bengals, to his two neck surgeries the past two years.
And now he slides under the radar for the first time in his career and he’s still big news as the Bengals open their voluntary on-field sessions.
With starting cornerbacks Leon Hall (Achilles) and Nate Clements (abdomen) on the side rehabbing, Jones got plenty of work Tuesday in the first workout. After an offseason he signed a low-profile one-year deal while the Bengals went out and signed two more veteran corners in Terence Newman and Jason Allen, Jones quietly talked about what he hoped to accomplish in his third season as a Bengal at age 28.
He knows he’s no longer Pacman Jones in more ways than one.
“I don’t want to be known as just (a) talent right now. I want to make sure I’m covering everything else,” Jones said. “Of course I have great talent but right now I’m working on my head, being a lot smarter and just play the defense. I feel comfortable with the defense and I’m playing a little bit faster.
“If you want to be a good player or a great player in this league you can’t just rely on talent. In the past I have done that. Now I’m just getting better every day, staying in my playbook, trying to understand what the offense is trying to do against different defensive calls.”
When he signed here two years ago just in time for the OTAs, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer insisted Jones reign in that enormous talent and fire and play within the defense. Jones indicated Tuesday it has been sinking in.
“There’s a time and a place for everything,” he said. “I know my role on this team. I’m going to sit back and keep my mouth shut and let my play speak for itself.”
Maybe no play spoke louder about what he can do with the ball in his hands than last year on Oct. 30 in Seattle, when he got his hands on it for the first time in 13 months. He took a punt 63 yards for the club’s longest return in eight years and would have scored if he didn’t pull up with a hamstring/groin injury that took him out of the next two games and lingered.
The play signified both what Jones can do and what he hasn’t been able to do because of injuries and why he thinks if he can stay healthy he’s still a very good starting corner.
“Of course I would have been able to turn the corner on that one. I couldn’t do it with the injuries, torn hammy and torn groin. I had to choke it down,” he said.
He admits last year was tough as he started for Hall in the last seven games while he battled rust and his body. But Jones says this is the best he’s felt in years. He’s put on some bulk and it’s the first time since ’06 he’s heading into a season without a layoff or injury.
“This is the best I felt since ’06,” he said. “Body weight, strength, I’ve gained five or six pounds to 187. I feel good, man.”
Combine that with the talent that just never goes away and his huge competitive streak and Jones is going to make it all very interesting. While he returned only one more punt last year (for four yards), wide receiver Brandon Tate set the team’s single-season record for punt return yards and attempts.
“Oh yeah. I really want that punt return job,” Jones said. “I want that job. I want both jobs, but I really want that job, too. The coaches pretty much know I want to be back there on punt return. We’re all competing. We have a long time before summer gets here. I’m just going to try to get better and better.”
No matter what happens, it will be a headline. That’s how much talent there is.
Tags: Adam Jones Mike Zimmer Leon Hall
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