Updated: 5:35 p.m.
The Bengals lost one of their biggest playmakers Tuesday when cornerback Adam Jones went on season-ending injured reserve with a herniated neck disc suffered in Sunday's 39-32 loss in Atlanta.
Any kind of serious neck injury is always considered career-threatening, but Jones, 27, has age on his side. It is believed he'll opt for surgery and stay in Cincinnati for his rehab in his bid to play the second year of the two-year deal he signed back in May.
Also Tuesday, the Bengals cut tight end Dan Coats and re-signed J.P. Foschi to replace him on the 53-man roster
Sunday was supposed to be the crowning day of Jones' riveting comeback story when he returned to play the Falcons in his hometown of Atlanta. Hounded by off-field problems that led to his year-long suspension in 2007, release from the Cowboys in 2008, and no job in 2009, Jones had found a niche as the Bengals third cornerback and a kick and punt returner.
He made his first start in two years Sunday in place of the injured Johnathan Joseph and while he did get beat on Roddy White's 43-yard touchdown catch, he also popped a kick return for 45 yards that got called back for a hold on Coats.
His teammates have been impressed with his passion for the game and his toughness and both were on display Sunday. Jones apparently suffered the injury after he fielded a punt and then took a shot in the shoulder and neck area when he was on the ground.
But he stayed in the game and then made what looked to be the play that turned the season around despite the injury when he belted White on a five-yard catch, ripped the ball out of his hands, and picked up the fumble for a 59-yard return for a touchdown that gave the Bengals their short-lived 25-24 lead with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
Moments later on the successful Falcons two-point conversion with 13:02 left in the game, Jones hit the deck and had to leave for good.
He had an impact in his busy five games. Two weeks ago he set up Cincinnati's first touchdown of the Tampa Bay game with a 27-yard punt return and he recovered a fumble on a kickoff that set up what should have been the winning touchdown. He also had his first interception in four years in the Bengals victory over Baltimore.
The Bengals apparently had their choice of signing Foschi or fullback Chris Pressley to replace Coats. A source said both worked out Tuesday after Pressley had been cut by Tampa Bay on Saturday. Pressley broke into the NFL last year as a college free agent for the Bengals out of Wisconsin and ended up with the Bucs when the Bengals cut him just before the season.
The move suggests the Bengals are more comfortable with tight ends doing run-blocking than any fullbacks that are available because they haven't had a fullback on the roster all year.
Coats, a fourth-year college free agent from Brigham Young, had a variety of roles with the Bengals since 2007. He was mainly on special teams this season and his lack of production there led to his release.
Foschi was a nice story in last season's run. He showed up off the street in the wake of season-ending injuries to Reggie Kelly and Ben Utecht and proved to be a solid, veteran presence. He played in 15 games with 10 starts and had career highs with 27 catches, 260 yards, and two touchdowns. The Bengals didn't re-sign him and he hooked on with Buffalo for two weeks before he got cut the week before the season.