Agent: Jones wants to start

Updated: 9-1-07, 6:40 p.m.



Kenny Zuckerman, the agent for Levi Jones, said Saturday that they aren't asking the Bengals for a trade. But his client doesn't want to be backup.

"If he's not going to be the starter, there are a lot of teams that would love to have him," Zuckerman said. "He wants to play. He doesn't want to be a backup."

Since Zuckerman just signed Jones to a six-year, $40 million extension the week of the 2006 training camp, the Bengals probably couldn't handle the salary cap acceleration this year, thought to be in the $3-4 million range.

And Zuckerman isn't asking or demanding a trade.

"Why? He's their property. They just gave him all this money," he said. "All we're saying is 'if you don't want to play him, get something for your investment.' "

Jones expressed his displeasure with his practice snaps after not starting Friday night's preseason finale. Jones, one of the NFL's elite left tackles, thinks the Bengals are getting ready to start Andrew Whitworth in the Sept. 10 opener.

"I just think if they were getting me ready for Baltimore, you would think they would be trying a little harder to get me prepared for that," said Jones, who went into the game on the third series and played deep into the second half.

"I'm surprised about a lot of stuff going on and understand none of it," Jones said. "Last week, I took more reps at right tackle than left tackle."

Jones doesn't feel he's getting enough work in practice, and felt a message was sent when he was working against the third team late in the game.

"What's that tell you?" Jones asked. "If they had a starter getting ready for Baltimore Monday night you would think give them as much work as possible, right? So obviously something else is going on, so maybe you can tell me."

Whitworth, a second-round pick last season, made 10 starts in place of Jones as a rookie following his Oct. 15 knee injury against Tampa Bay.

Head coach Marvin Lewis checked in Saturday and not on Jones' side.

"Levi understated how much he practiced by maybe a third," Lewis said. "It concerns me that it's not about you, Levi, it's about the football team and he knows that and realizes that. I don't want the guys to vent their frustration to you and I'm not going to vent my frustration to you."

Asked if Jones will start against Baltimore, Lewis said, "I don't have to make that determination now to you."

After a brilliant season in 2005 during which Jones shut down some of the game's best pass rushers and earned a first alternate berth in the Pro Bowl, the Bengals signed him to a deal in which he's scheduled to make nearly half of the $40 million from 2006-2008.

When Jones arrived at training camp a month ago he was unhappy. He said his knee wasn't as strong after working with the Bengals in the spring than it had been the previous months with his own people in Arizona.

But he said after Friday's game that "it feels good. Surprisingly good. How did I look out there? Don't I look good enough to start? I've been ready for a couple of weeks."

There seems to be a difference of opinion on what is transpiring on the practice field. After playing for the first time this season in last Monday night's game in Atlanta (when he took about 20 snaps), Jones said he only took about eight snaps in practice. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said it was 50 and that he took about as many reps as any other offensive player.

Maybe it's with whom he is practicing. Jones reiterated Friday he's not getting enough work in practice.

"Not like they would practice trying to get somebody ready and getting their feel back for it," he said.

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