After Wednesday's practice, cornerback Adam Jones took questions from the media for the first time as a member of the Bengals. The interview was transcribed by Joe Kay of The Associated Press, C. Trent Rosecrans of Cnati.com, and Josh Katzowitz of CBSSports.com.
You've had a couple of practices to get into the swing of things. How does it feel?
AJ: It feels good man. This is what I love to do is play football. Growing up as a kid, this is what I dreamed to do. It's a blessing to be back out there. I'm having a lot of fun running around with my teammates. We have a great group here. I'm just trying to do whatever I can do to help the team.
Do you feel rusty?
AJ: Of course I feel rusty. I've been out of the game a whole year. So all I can do is just work hard every day and get back to where I was before I left. But right now I feel good, I'm in shape, I'm competing every day. Like I said, this is not just a day process. I'm taking it day by day and come July 28, I'll be ready to rock and roll.
What was it like being out of football for a year?
AJ: It was miserable. Something I've been doing my whole life - started playing football when I was five years old. It takes a real man to have been through what I've been through. It's hard to sit back from something you've been doing so long. Not too much you can do about it but sit down and watch and pray and work on yourself.
Much soul searching?
AJ: Oh yeah, I did a lot of soul-searching. That's why I'm right here talking to you all. I did a lot of soul-searching, I did a lot of corrections, everything. Right now, everything is pretty good - family-wise, spiritual, mentally. I'm at ease right now, I should say.
Have you made some changes?
AJ: Of course you change as you grow. Like I said, it ain't overnight. I'm 26 years old now, so I can't do the same things I was doing at 21, or I'm going to be dead or in jail. I know what my passion is, and my passion is football. I know what I've got to do to keep playing football, and that's what I'm working on doing.
You've been humbled to change (your) lifestyle?
AJ: I wouldn't say I was never humble. I walk around with a swagger, I would say. But you live and you learn, and sometimes you have to put that to the back and just keep a smiling face and keep walking. Like I said before, man, all I'm doing is getting better every day. This is not going to happen overnight. I can't convince you guys overnight, but the only thing I can do is do my job and keep working on Adam.
Can you still have that swagger or do you need to walk on egg shells for a while?
AJ: Oh no, I have a swagger on the field, period. I'm never going to lose my swagger on the field. If you see me out there, I compete every play. If I don't make the play, I'm upset with myself. That's the kind of swagger I'm talking about. I'm not talking about a swagger with your pants down or nothing like that. I'm talking about on the field. If I'm not playing with a swagger on the field, I don't think I need to be out there.
How close are you to '06?
AJ: I've got a lot of work to do, man. I haven't played football in a whole year. The mechanics are there. You still have to knock off the rust. I'm looking in the backfield too long. Certain plays I'm lining up seven yards when I should be six yards. So right now, it's just the clicking. But I do feel a whole lot better. I feel a lot better than I was in Dallas - shape-wise, mentally, physically. It's football, man. so I'm enjoying myself.
Zim really emphasizes discipline, which hasn't been a part of your freelancing ways. How has it been working with Zim?
AJ: I respect someone who respects me. Zim is a great coach. Who else better to learn from? I heard tremendous stories about Zim before I got here. I liked to be coached, period. Whatever way he wants to coach me, I'm willing to listen and learn, because I want to get back to where I was. At the end of the day, I'm willing to take any coaching. I'm listening because I want to get better. That's my goal.
Did you stay in contact with Chris Henry?
AJ: Oh yeah. Chris was a great friend of mine.
What did you learn from what he went through?
AJ: Chris went through a lot. It would depend on what situation you're talking about. Chris touched a part of me. I really don't like to talk about it.
How does the after-football stuff change for you? How have you made sure that won't be crossed now?
AJ: I've got all my T's crossed and my I's dotted. I know what it takes. I know what I have to do. Period, point blank, I know what I have to do as a role model. I know what my job is here, and I know what the coaches expect out of me and I know what the team expects out of me. It's straight to the cut. It's not like Dallas. It's Cincinnati. I love it. Hey, do your job, don't get in trouble, you'll be all right. I was young and made some mistakes. That's in the past, all I can talk about is the future right now. I feel good about about it.
It's no longer Pacman Jones?
AJ: Of course. It's been gone to you guys, anyways, since Dallas. My teammates will probably call me Pac, but with you guys, it's straight business. That's how I'm going to treat this moving forward. I'm not going to treat this no other way.
What did the workout in February show you? How many changes did you make?
AJ: In February, I was in no shape, to tell you the truth. It was zero below here also. I begged coach. I told him I hadn't done one since week eight and if he could give me a shot in another two or three weeks. I looked him in his eyes and told him I wasn't getting down. I got myself in tip-top shape. I'm 190 pounds. I'm 5 percent body fat. I bust my ass over a couple of weeks to get myself where I am today. This don't come overnight. Everybody is like, 'He's a freak athlete.' Well yeah, I'm a freak athlete, but I do work. When I'm in the weight room, I work. When I'm doing drills, I work. You all don't get to see all the other stuff I put into it. But I'm working, man. I'm working every day to better myself as a person and a football player.
Where do you fit in (at cornerback?)
AJ: Whatever they ask me to do. This was a good defense last year. All I can do is do my part. If I do my part, I help the team. There's no 'I' guy around here. I'm just working every day, man, and getting better. I go to those guys, Johnathan and say, 'What's this, what's that?' they've been tremendous in helping me out also.
How much of advantage will it be to have OTAs instead of in Dallas where you just went into training camp?
AJ: It's going to give me a big, big, big, big, big, big difference. People don't understand the difference between OTAs and just jumping in there. My timing should be a little better, hopefully we can get some pads on so I can knock that rust out. But for the most part, man, I think I'll be all right with all the OTAs going into camp, my body feels good and I'm working hard.
What's the difference between here and Dallas?
AJ: It's a great locker room. These guys in here work their ass off. Just coming in here and working in and fitting in and doing my job, trying to get my job done. That's about it.
Cincinnati is better for you because its lower profile than Dallas. Do you buy that?
AJ: Low profile for Adam Jones, is not in America. Maybe in Puerto Rico or something, or not even there. Where you want to say? The UK? I know there's an eye on me for all times. I'm prepared, like I said, it's not going to happen overnight, it didn't happen overnight, I got this far because I worked my ass off and that's what I continue to do.
Have you talked to Roger (Goodell)?
AJ: No, I haven't. I reached out to Mr. Goodell, left him a voicemail. ... Besides that, I'm just doing my part. It's better when you don't have to talk to him, I guess.
Is the best shape you've been in?
AJ: I'm in shape. Shape, shape. I'm like when I came out. I was in about this good of shape in '05, '06. I'm in shape.
You're not sleeping here, yet?
AJ: I'm almost. I'm here at 6:30 to what time is it now (1:30 p.m.)? I spent a lot of time here. I take it a whole lot more serious. I had a whole year to look at a lot of things, and makes me take the job serious.
What did you do last year?
AJ: I traveled and was the best dad I could possibly be. I spent a lot of time with my little girl and fiancé. (His daughter is four and lives in Atlanta.)
Go anywhere good?
AJ: We just came from Disney World for a week. She goes to a private school in Atlanta, so they were on spring break. The longest walking I've ever done in my life for seven days.
Lot of lines?
AJ: Daddy took care of the lines. I had a pass. She enjoyed herself, got to meet everybody, that's what it's all about.
Talk about Deion (Sanders).
AJ: Deion's been a great mentor, he's been a father figure to me. At the end of the day, it comes down to Adam. I don't need anyone to point the finger at me, because I'm doing my job. I talked to D every day. He's my dude.
What's he told you about life?
AJ: He's told me that I've made a lot of dumb decisions, but there comes a time when you have to focus in and think about life. 22, 23 years old, I had a lot of friends, everywhere I went, I wanted to keep 15, 20 people, but it's not like that anymore. Most of my cars are two-seaters. Me and my fiancé we cruise around.
By design. Only two seats?
AJ: Yeah, except the truck for when I have my little girl. I'm just doing my part, I'm happy.
Chris said the big thing was surrounding himself with different people.
AJ: It's a great locker room. At the end of the day it comes down to what you want to do, at the end of the day it's all about me, I don't plan on giving you guys anything to write about negative.
Is this a desperate time?
AJ: Oh no. I'm not desperate. I love to play football, I was desperate not to play football last year, but as far as desperate, but I was not like desperate that I was going to jump off a bridge or something. I've been blessed, I was the sixth pick, every day I was out I prayed to God to get one more opportunity and I won't mess it up. The time has come, I'm here in Cincinnati, I'm enjoying myself, I'm settled in, I'm not in a hotel anymore, thank God.
Did you ever think you wouldn't get another chance?
AJ: No. I'm a firm believer in, regardless of what anyone says, I've been believing in God. People make mistakes and they move on. Thank God I got a couple of chances. This is going to be a good start.
What did it mean that the Bengals gave you another shot after you sucked so bad in your first workout?
AJ: It was a blessing. I was excited. I had a couple of more teams with interest, I felt like I made the best decision for me and my family. And I like it here, you know what I mean? I like the coaches. I like the way Zimmer coaches. I like my DBs coach. I do not… I don't… wait a minute, how do I say it? I do not don't want to be a part of this, you know what I mean, so I'm going to do whatever I need to do to be a part of this. My talent speaks for itself. I've just got to keep working. If I keep working, I'll be all right.