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Zero tolerance: Zimmer says if 'Pacman' runs afoul, 'we'll cut him'

Though nothing is official -- yet -- all signs point to cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones signing with the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday. So much so that when I reached out to Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer about "Pacman," I was quickly corrected.


My bad.

Zimmer wants to give the player who put a face and a nickname on the NFL's personal-conduct policy a chance. So does head coach Marvin Lewis. It's a low-risk, high-reward possibility for the Father Flanagan of football teams, which has made a habit out of giving players who have run afoul the chance to help win football games.

"Marvin told him if we sign him, he'd be back for OTAs," Zimmer said before news of Jones agreeing to a two-year deal with the Bengals came out Thursday. "[Jones] said, 'You sign me, I'll be here. Put a bed in here. I'll live here.'

"I told him that you'll live here all right. Not in the city, the stadium. You have to prove to everybody in the United States that this is what you want to do with your life. He said all the right things. Will we get bit in the rear end for it? I don't know. I was up front with him with the things we have here as far as the chemistry and players on defense. He seems, to me, like he was very, very humbled. Whether it happens, we'll see."

Sure sounds like it will officially happen Monday.

"If he steps one inch out of line, we'll cut him," Zimmer said. "Other than taking the media hits that we're taking, it's a low-risk deal. You can hit a home run. It's not like he'll make a ton of money. What I'm talking about here isn't just the off-field stuff. We have guys here. We don't necessarily need him, but if he's here, he needs to be more disciplined with how he plays and how we want it done."

Jones, 26, swung the coaches in his favor this week with a second workout. His first workout in February was a hot mess. He was out of shape, didn't run any of the drills according to direction and looked more than lost, Zimmer said. But the coaches told Jones they'd give him time to get in shape and give him another look. The Bengals didn't really want to do it, but they wanted to stand on their word.

Jones took it seriously, put on 12 to 15 pounds of muscle, according to Zimmer, and breezed through the second workout.

Coaches saw the talent and, more importantly, the hunger. Zimmer said he has been conned by players before and that Jones could be working him and the other coaches. But Zimmer believes Jones is in it for the right reasons.

The Detroit Lions also were hot on Jones but not as much as the Bengals, who really don't need a cornerback because of Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall. However, a team can't have enough corners. Still, Jones might have to earn his keep on special teams, possibly as a returner, a role he previously played in Tennessee and Dallas.

It will be an interesting move, and not just because Cincinnati would give another troubled player a chance. Jones played collegiately at West Virginia with late Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry, the troubled player who seemed to have turned around his life before he died in a tragic car accident last season.

Jones' repeated run-ins with the law led to him being suspended for the 2007 season for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. The Titans, who drafted Jones in the first round in 2005, traded him to the Cowboys during the suspension, and he played nine games with Dallas in 2008 before getting in trouble again. He was released and hasn't played since, his career numbers sitting at 146 tackles and four interceptions for now.


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While out of the league, Jones hasn't been in trouble. Zimmer said Jones has been living with his girlfriend in New Orleans and staying out of his hometown of Atlanta, where he got into trouble more than once.

"We've had other players like that before," said Zimmer, who has turned the Bengals' defense into one of the NFL's best with a combination of players, some of whom would be out of the league if not for Cincinnati bailing them out. "Every one of these kids. Roy Williams, people said he couldn't play anymore. Tank Johnson, Chris Crocker, Brandon Johnson -- they've all been awakened by being out on the street. Sometimes (when) you give these kids their last chance, they'll fight tooth and nail for you. That's what I expect him to do.

"I know what he was before, but we don't know what he is now," Zimmer added. "If he can help us and we can help him, it's a good situation. He knows he has to be a humbled person in the locker room and on the field to fit in."

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