There's 4:50 remaining in Sunday's game and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton just completed a touchdown pass to a wide-open Greg Olsen, giving Carolina a 31-24 lead. Adam Jones approached special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons and said, "allow me to return this kickoff, good sir." Simmons obliged and then watched Jones do what Jones does. Instinctively find a lane and return the kickoff 97 yards to the Panthers three-yard line. Jeremy Hill punched in the game-tying touchdown with 4:36 remaining in regulation.
How the Bengals don't have Jones returning every kickoff and punt is beyond us. However, if you're hoping that Jones will return more kickoffs, than you may partially be in luck. However, as ESPN beat writer Coley Harvey teases, "you won't see him returning them all the time."
Cincinnati still intends to use Brandon Tate.
"I don't really see anybody's role changing," Simmons said via ESPN. "We're just going to be using both. They both have proven that they can do it."
Since the Bengals are now down two of their key contributors at receiver and are considerably healthier at Jones' primary position, cornerback, it would make sense for them to want to slow down Tate's kick-return chances. With Marvin Jones done for the year, tight end Tyler Eifert still a few weeks away from playing and A.J. Green likely out again this weekend, Tate will once again be a key option in the Bengals' passing game.
According to Pro Football Focus, Tate played 65 snaps on offense last week against Carolina - a season-high. He had 60 snaps against Atlanta when A.J. Green was pulled midway through Cincinnati's first possession. Jones, on the other hand, was on the field for 48 snaps on defense last week.
Why not just put Jones on return duty and give Darqueze Dennard and/or Dre Kirkpatrick more playing time? They are young cornerbacks who would benefit greatly by being tossed into the fire for development... especially with the ageless Terence Newman turning 36 last month and Leon Hall, who has suffered an Achilles tear in two of the last three years, entering a contract year next season (as will Adam Jones).