Jackson replaces Jones

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals made their fourth change in the starting lineup since Dick LeBeau became coach when they replaced Rod Jones Monday with John Jackson at left tackle.

Jackson, 35, a 13-year veteran from Woodward High School, makes his 162nd NFL start against Denver this Sunday in a 1 p.m. game at Paul Brown Stadium. And first for his hometown team since signing as a free agent at the start of training camp.

The move came a day after Jones allowed two sacks by Steelers linebacker Joey Porter that accounted for five Pittsburgh points during the Bengals' 15-0 loss. One blind-side sack forced quarterback Akili Smith to fumble and set up a field goal. The other was a safety pinned on backup quarterback Scott Mitchell.

It's the first change not dictated by an injury across a struggling line. The Bengals have allowed 25 sacks, fourth highest in the NFL for the league's last-rated pass offense. Cincinnati, just 40 yards shy of the NFL rushing title last season, is currently 20th in rushing.

"When you're 0-6 and make some bad plays and they happen to be huge plays, the perception is you have to make some type of change," Jones said. "I can't be bitter. I have to go to work Wednesday. I think it will help if I sit back and see some things."

The consensus is Jones has been pressing since signing a three-year, $9 million deal in February. He has struggled with speed pass rushers and made a high-profile mistake two weeks ago on the last play of the first half that led to the Dolphins scoring a touchdown and cutting Cincinnati's half-time lead to 13-10.

"I think he's putting too much pressure on himself," said offensive line coach Paul Alexander. We just want him to be Rod Jones. He's trying to be more than Rod Jones. The key to this league is doing what you can do and nothing more and we think Rod Jones is good enough. I'll know when he has it back again and when he has it back again we'll evaluate."

Jones, 25, in his fifth season and second as the starting left tackle, admitted he has been putting more heat on himself since the contract. He's trying to get back to '99, when he won the job and was the best lineman in training camp. . .

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'I had everything to gain," Jones said. "No one knew who I was or expected anything from me. I come back this year and they reward you for doing well and now you're saying, 'I have to do that much better. I've got to do something extra. I've got to be that much better. I can't do anything wrong.'

"Instead of just going out and letting the game come to me," Jones said. "Slow the game down and simplify it."

When Jones gave up the sack against Miami's Jason Taylor, a new technique backfired. When Porter got to Mitchell in the end zone, Jones had trouble picking up the call amid the noise on the goal line and misheard it. Earlier in the game, Porter beat Jones late on a play Smith held the ball for some time.

"I'm not making any excuses," Jones said. "The guy shouldn't have got by me. Game of inches. All you need to play a bad game at left tackle is one bad play. All you need to play a great game at end is one sack."

Jackson played 10 years in Pittsburgh, where he worked 13 playoff games, before signing the richest offensive linemen's deal at the time in San Diego before the 1998 season. He got cut this past season for what appeared to be salary reasons.

"No question we're in a good situation when you can put a guy like John in there," Alexander said.

Since LeBeau replaced Bruce Coslet Sept. 25, Rodney Heath has replaced Artrell Hawkins at right cornerback in the starting lineup, Craig Yeast has replaced Ron Dugans at split end, and Glen Steele has replaced the banged-up Tom Barndt at defensive tackle.

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