6-04-08 -- Adam “Pacman” Jones is already showing his new teammates some of his playmaking skills.
Still, Jones knows lessons learned off the field in more than a year away from the game are more important than two interceptions in two offseason practices with the Dallas Cowboys.
“Just picking and choosing my places, my friends, knowing what to do, when to do it and what not to do,” Jones said Wednesday after his second workout with the Cowboys. “Out of everything I’ve been through, that’s the past. I’m going to talk about the future, but I’ve learned a great deal.”
After Jones missed the 2007 season while suspended from the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell this week partially reinstated the cornerback. Jones can practice with the team and has been cleared for training camp and preseason games, but may not know until Sept. 1—six days before the Cowboys’ opener—if he can play in the regular season.
Jones, who met with Goodell last month in Atlanta, is confident that he will do his part to play.
“I know what it takes for me to do what I need to do, and that’s what I’m going to do,” Jones said, refusing to detail what Goodell told him. “It’s all up to the commissioner. Like I said before, I’m going to do my part.”
The second day of workouts for Jones was the first open to the media, and the first with Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens also on the field.
Jones had an interception and sprinted toward the end zone during team drills, like he did at the end of practice Tuesday. Both passes were thrown by third-stringer Richard Bartel, not Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo.
“I feel real good to get around my new teammates and start working on what we’ve got to do for the future,” Jones said. “A lot of relief, man. I’ve been waiting on this day for a whole year, so I’m just happy to be a part of this team, and I’m happy to be back on the field.”
Jones worked out at cornerback, and on kickoff and punt returns. On defense, Jones was matched up a couple of plays against Owens, who practiced for the first time since signing his new $34 million contract through the 2011 season on Tuesday. No passes came their way when they were together.
“Pac’s in pretty good shape. … You can tell his natural skills,” coach Wade Phillips said. “It’s up to him obviously, we all know that and he knows that. As far as the football part, we’re trying to get him ready and I think we will. He’s really talented.”
Jones was suspended in April 2007 following an accumulation of arrests and legal problems, including his connection to a shooting at a Las Vegas strip club. He’s been arrested six times and involved in 12 incidents requiring police intervention since being drafted in the first round by Tennessee in 2005.
“The past is the past. I made some bad decisions and I owned up to all my decisions,” Jones said. “Now I worry about the future.”
Jones is wearing No. 21, the number Deion Sanders wore for the Cowboys. Sanders also has become somewhat of a mentor, having first reached out to the young cornerback with a phone call.
For the past month, Jones worked out at Sanders’ home, with mid-afternoon sessions in the Texas heat—and a sandpit. Sanders, who watched practice Wednesday, has spent numerous hours with Jones, though they talk more about the present and the future than the past.
“I don’t even call him Pacman. Pacman is gone. I call him new man now. He is a new man,” Sanders said. “I have a love for this kid that is insatiable. I don’t want to call him my son, but I see something in him that I want to love him.”
Sanders said his biggest influence has been allowing Jones to “be in close proximity to witness my life” with family and others away with the field.
Phillips believes the most important part about Jones being partially reinstated is that he’s able to interact with his new teammates. The coach has already had several conversations with Jones, acquired from the Titans with an exchange of draft picks.
“I’ve been around him enough and have a feel for him. When a guy says I’ve made mistakes and when he admits he’s made mistakes, and he’s a smart guy, the smart guys learn from their mistakes,” Phillips said. “He says he’s going to do what it takes to play for us. And I do believe that.”
While Jones hasn’t been compelled to address his new teammates as a group, knowing they are already aware of what he’s done, he has talked to several of them, primarily fellow defensive backs. He told them about the mistakes he made and “how it felt to be sitting out a whole year, and wishing you could be out there and not knowing if you would get the chance.”
Now that he has the chance, and possibly his last one, Jones knows he will be under constant scrutiny for what he does, especially off the field.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Jones said. “I wish I had known all of this when I first got in the league, then I wouldn’t have made some of the bad decisions that I made. I like pressure, man, and no matter what no one says, it’s all on me now.
“There’s no excuses,” he said. “I think that I’m in a great position and I’m ready for it.”