Today Cornerback Adam Jones received the ultimate ‘yea’ vote on the possibility of returning punts again from Bengals Special Teams Coach Darrin Simmons.
“I don’t want to risk Adam pulling his hamstring right now with the position we are at at corner right now. Whenever he can prove that he’s healthy, then hell yeah we’ll put him back there.”
Jones’ groin/hamstring aren’t 100% healthy (he hurt both muscles a few weeks ago), but he has played the past two games at cornerback, including starting last week against the Cleveland Browns. It’s not known when Pacman will be fully healthy, but the spark he provides in the punt return game is truly incredible. The first time he touched the ball this season, he ran a punt return back 63 yards. Unfortunately, his hamstring “grabbed” while he was running and his sprint down the field was slowed to a jog. The Seahawks’ punter actually caught Jones on the play because he had been slowed down so much. If not for the injury, Pacman should have been able to run around the punter easily for a touchdown.
A big reason Jones was taken 6th overall in the 2005 draft was his quickness, agility, and playmaking ability. He was been a return man for most of his career, returning punts and kickoffs in his two years with the Tennessee Titans, and returning punts while with the Dallas Cowboys. He has 4 punt return touchdowns in his short career.
Pacman’s punt retuning ability has me truly excited, but that’s not to say our current punt return game is poor. In fact, the Bengals rank 11th in the NFL with an average of 10.9 yards returned per punt. Return man Brandon Tate has been serviceable this year and has a lot of potential. However, he doesn’t seem to show up in some games and seems indecisive every other return. On Tate’s one return touchdown this year, it was Adam Jones who gave him the best advice he would receive all year, saying “Don’t juke, take it and go.”