We at Cincy Jungle broke news yesterday that Adam Jones returned to practice this week and he has since been working with the team at full capacity. Jones is eyeing a return this week against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday and based on his participation this week, (as well as some other factors) this could become a reality. If Jones were to return to play this week, it would mark the first time in over a year that he'd be dressed and playing football as a Bengal.
As we mentioned when we heard of Jones' return, the Bengals get a three-week roster exemption, meaning they do not have to cut anyone while he practices with the team and gets back into the swing of all things football. At any time during those three weeks, the Bengals can choose to activate Jones and must release another player to make room for him--save for this week.
With running back Cedric Benson's one-game suspension taking place Sunday, it leaves the Bengals a loophole if they decide to activate Jones this week. No player would have to be released this week as the Bengals would have an open roster spot with Benson's absence.
All the while, Jones has been practicing hard and trying to get back in "football shape".
Jones has not only been participating in defensive drills, but also in special teams--mostly in the kick return drills. When asked about his progress and how he felt, Jones had this to say:
"I competed good today and it was good to get back out there in the swing of things and enjoy the competition," Jones said. "Physically I felt there. Mentally it was different out there with the calls but the coaches have done a good job preparing me. They know I’m ready to play. I hope they feel the same way. I’m going to compete with teammates and try to help them out."
When Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer was asked about how Jones had been looking in practice so far, he didn't offer much in terms of on-field progress. He did note, however, that Jones has been very studious in the film sessions and is very eager to return to the field. Jones also added that he feels that he has a better grasp on the playbook this season as opposed to last season.
We still don't know if all of this means that Jones will return this week. Traditionally, the Bengals are very cautious about players recovering from injury and rushing them back. Jones' case is particularly sensitive because it was a neck injury that he suffered. But, with the Bengals having a free roster spot this week and Jones proclaiming himself healthy, this week may be as good as any to get him on the roster.