Believed to be out for the season because of a neck injury, Jones returned to practice Wednesday and is expected to play Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens, both at cornerback and returning kicks, after missing only one game.
"It surprised everybody," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "He's got nine lives. Maybe he's got 18 lives."
Jones was injured two Sundays ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers in his first game after serving a six-week suspension for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. Tests showed a herniated disk, and there was talk of shutting Jones down for the season.
The Cowboys didn't put Jones on injured reserve just in case he healed. Sure enough, doctors checked him out again this week and discovered he was healthy enough to play, prompting speculation this wasn't a new injury. Perhaps he already had the herniation, and it was merely aggravated against the Steelers.
"It just wasn't as bad as we thought," Phillips said. "Once it was treated, it was better. ... They said he's ready to go. He seems ready."
Added Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: "Our initial diagnosis there wasn't that encouraging that he'd get back this quickly. We're really excited about having him; we need him. I don't know that we could have added anything personnel-wise that gives a lift like having him in the secondary."
Jones' return frees cornerback Anthony Henry to play more at safety, where the Cowboys are running out of healthy players. Starter Ken Hamlin didn't practice Wednesday and might not all week; he didn't practice last week, but played in the game. Fellow starting safety Keith Davis is fighting a variety of injuries, and the only backup, Tra Battle, strained a hamstring in Dallas' last game.
Quarterback Tony Romo practiced Wednesday despite his back being stiff and sore, but running back Marion Barber sat out because of his dislocated right pinkie toe.
Romo went through most of the workout, and Phillips said the QB improved as he went along. Everyone seems confident Romo will be ready to play against the Ravens in what also will be the Cowboys' last regular-season game at Texas Stadium.
"I'm sure it will be fine by Saturday," Romo said on a conference call with Baltimore reporters. "I think it's just part of playing football. Everyone gets banged up this time of year, and you get back out there and you play."
Barber was injured on Thanksgiving and missed the Pittsburgh game. He was a game-time decision Sunday night against the Giants and wound up gaining only 2 yards on eight carries. Phillips said Barber likely will be a game-time decision again.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press