That burgeoning media company, Adam "Pacman," Jones, surfaced at Bengals training camp Sunday and began looking at his notes on the rookie cornerbacks he loves.
DJ Turner II "can flat out run and cover and he knows where the ball is." And DJ Ivey?
"I like Ivey a lot too," said Jones after he saw him hit some receivers in Friday night's preseason opener. "He's fast and he's got a little dog in him, too. They've done a great job bringing in these young guys ready to play. Cam (Taylor) Britt is ready to play.
"The safety (Tycen) Anderson," said Jones of the sophomore who had two picks Friday and took one to the house. "You can tell he's been in the system a year up under Lou (Anarumo) with the plays he made. That's just good ball IQ."
Say what you want about Pacman Jones (and everybody has), but his football IQ, as well as his passion for the game, his family, and the Bengals is irrefutable. Jones, 39, a heady and athletic cornerback along with being a thrilling punt returner, revived his career here during eight seasons in the previous decade when the Bengals went to five straight playoffs.
If you know Jones is one of five cornerbacks to play 100 games for the Bengals, take a bow. He played 100 exactly. Only Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Ken Riley, Super Bowl XVI starter Louis Breeden, Pacman-era Leon Hall and six-time Pro Bowler Lemar Parrish played more.
"I think we've got a good secondary. We know our linebackers are top in the league. If we can stay healthy up front, bro, I think this is our year. I think this is our year to win the Super Bowl," Jones said.
"I hear all the talk about the Jets and Mahomes and Josh Allen. But at the end of the day, if we're healthy with this three-headed monster with the receivers and Joe Mixon on a prove-it-year, I think this year could be really good."
Jones knows what a good Bengals secondary looks like. He was one of the linchpins of one, along with Hall and safety Reggie Nelson. Remember that 28-game stretch in Paycor Stadium from the middle of 2012 through 2015?
The defenses of Mike Zimmer and Paul Guenther held quarterbacks to a 67.3 passer rating. Tom Brady (48.8), Aaron Rodgers (61.9), Joe Flacco (42.2), Matt Ryan (46.8) and the Mannings, Eli (53.6) and Peyton (61.8). In that '15 season, the Bengals became the only AFC North team to ever start a season 8-0.
Jones, now an ESPN analyst with his Pat McAfee ties who also hosts "Pacman Jones Keeps Crazy Company," thinks this secondary can be better than that one.
"With the quarterback they have, I think they can be better than us. They won't have to play as many plays as we had to play," Jones said. "We played a lot of plays. If they can play and not give up the deep ball, they have a chance to be way better than we were and the only reason I say that is we played 75 plays a game."
And Jones loves the quarterback.
"Joe Burrow is in a class of his own. Burrow is the best quarterback in the league when it comes to just talent as a quarterback as far as reading progressions," Jones said. "I love Mahomes. I think he's a great quarterback. He has unbelievable talent with his arm and has an unbelievable cast with that guy Andy Reid.
"Andy Reid is one of the best offensive coordinators. Some of the stuff he dials up has guys wide open. But as far as quarterback-quarterback, you can't argue who the best quarterback is. I know what the numbers say, but if any GM went around the league right now and wanted a guy, it would be Joe Burrow."
JOE CHECK: Quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher is leaving Burrow's throwing session before Friday's game to the trainers because he's still in rehab for his strained calf. For the third straight practice or game Sunday, Burrow came out to watch and then drove a golf cart back to the locker room.
"I wish I had something more exciting for you. That's just the day-to-day of it," Pitcher said. "He's in there every day doing the mental part. He's on the field watching us. He's contributing and doing everything but taking the full speed reps."
DR. LOU REPORT: The consistency of defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo's defense has been the melody of this camp so far. And safety Tycen Anderson's great performance on Friday night with a pick-six and another interception is a high note.
"Any time you see a guy make a play on the football and then score on defense, it's great. So, he had two of them, which is good to see.," Anarumo said after Sunday's practice. "And certainly, enough stuff that he's got to clean up in the other parts of the game. But we were happy with what we saw."
Safety Dax Hill is the only starter who did play Friday. Anarumo said he wanted Hill out there to sharpen his skills.
"Getting Dax a couple of series. He needs to play. He needs to play that position and get better at it," Anarumo said.
Hill had one of the highlights. He broke up a deep pass from Packers starting quarterback Jordan Love. Packers starting wide receiver Christian Watson was open for a big play as he beat rookie cornerback DJ Turner. Hill showed outstanding range as he came to the middle of the field, got in front of Watson, and swatted it away.
"Dax did well. I thought he was around the ball, made a nice range play that we know he can do," Anarumo said. "There are still some things he's got to clean up when he's closer to the ball in the box and be a little bit more physical at times."
Backup defensive tackle Domenique Davis spent the majority of the 2022 season on and off the practice squad and only played in two games last year. He has some tough competition in nose tackles DJ Reader and Josh Tupou. But he made an impression on Anarumo Friday.
"(Davis) is just a stout, strong guy that's hard to move. He was able to do a little bit of pass-rush stuff the other day, which was great. He kind of forced that (pick-six), had a great move on the guard, and the quarterback really couldn't see and just threw it, and Tycen was in the right spot," Anarumo said.
Of first-round edge Myles Murphy, Anarumo said, "He's done better every day out here. He's getting better. He's just got to get it into a different gear when we get out there in a game.
"It's a lot of those guys' first NFL game, we'll chalk it up to that",
Defensive tackles Jay Tufele and Zach Carter earned praise.
"Real happy with everything about (Carter)," Anarumo said. "He's strong, aggressive. You could see it's his second year, and I mean that in a positive way."
With Tufele, "When the lights go on, the lights go on. He turns it up another gear. And he's shown that it's not just against the other teams' twos and threes. He's done it in meaningful games for us."
That's the theme during this point of camp; who takes it to the next level in games?
PLAYER OF THE DAY: CB DJ Turner
With Jones on-site, Turner had a practice worthy of Michigan's Leon Hall. After a solid NFL debut Friday night, Michigan's Turner kept his big training camp going when the second-rounder batted away two balls in team field periods that were headed for Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase. And Chase, who also caught one on Turner as well as racing past cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt for a go ball, tipped his hat.
"With that make-up speed you can come back and make a play after you get beat," Chase said. "I beat him on a deep post, but he made the play."
Turner came in wearing the uneasy crown of "Fastest At The Scouting Combine." Often, that has been a hard honor to live up to. Former Bengal John Ross, who retired a few weeks ago, had 62 catches in five seasons.
But Turner is using his speed at just the right time. Closing on the ball like he did on the post to Chase.
"I was playing off in Cover Four. I'm not really scared of anyone's speed on me," Turner said. "(My speed) allowed me to break up the pass because I can play confidently."
Pitcher says he doesn't have the eye of a defensive coach, but he watches plenty of tape in the quarterbacks room and he has seen No. 20 often.
"He can run. He plays the ball. He makes life hard," Pitcher said. "He's at the catch point a lot. It's not easy to complete a ball on him, so that speaks volumes for that position.
"He's got great make-up speed and he knows that, so he doesn't panic. A lot of times if you've got a guy that doesn't trust his speed, he overreacts to an initial move because he's worried he's not going to get to the catch point. With him and fast guys like him, they don't have to do that. They trust their technique because they know even if we get a step on him, he can make up for it when the ball's in the air."
On the fade, Turner was one-on-one with Chase on third down and had a feeling.
"I was kind of expecting that from Ja'Marr. That's his go-to," Turner said. "I'm glad I get to go against him. Best vs. the best, they say. It gets me prepared for the games. I say I'm not going to see any better. This is the best receivers corps in the league."
He has impressed his boss.
"He has a lot of the tools that you look for in a really good cover corner," Anarumo said. "He's progressing every day … he's a hard-working guy, so the sky's the limit for him."
PLAY OF THE DAY: CB Mike Hilton
Second straight practice for the league's top nickel. This interception wasn't in the red zone, like the one in Wednesday's joint practice with the Packers. But it was more acrobatic and just as smart.
When quarterback Trevor Siemian sent the Big Three (Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins) in a semi-bunch to the same side, the defense was coiled in a blitz look.
"It had to be one of two things," Hilton said. "A deep ball or a screen. I just trusted my instincts."
Hilton jumped the screen, dove, and plucked the ball off the grass before rolling over, getting up, and flipping the ball away on a few untouched strides to the end zone.
Pitcher knows he's going to admire that one on film.
"Shoot, Mike's so smart. He sees it once and he remembers it. Never mind 50 times," Pitcher said. "We may have six adjustments to that look they showed and he knows them all. When you go play your opponent on Sunday, they're lucky if they know one or two. Great play by him."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Bengals T Jackson Carman on going back in Friday's game in the fourth quarter after starting in place of RT Jonah Williams:
"If I could have played the whole game I would have. I love being out there any chance I get to play. Doctors told me one time I wasn't going to be able to play football ever again (because of a back injury). For me to be even out there is a blessing and I'm thankful and grateful."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: Carman got some work at left tackle with the twos Sunday, which is what he did all last season when he backed up both sides …
Punter Drue Chrisman hasn't been given the green light yet for Friday's game in Atlanta (7:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12), but he says he's ready to go after Sunday's first practice of camp. He suffered an undisclosed medical incident the day camp opened 18 days ago and says his leg is ready.
"I don't consider myself super far behind," Chrisman said. "When missing workout time, typically you lose cardio and speed first and fortunately for my position you don't need too much of that. I felt strong. I felt good. Now every rep is even as meaningful as if I had a full training camp." …
Linebacker Joe Bachie (chest), tight end Tanner Hudson (concussion) and cornerback Sidney Jones IV (unknown) didn't work Sunday in a full-padded workout that was the first practice since Friday's game,