Adam Jones begins his eighth Bengals season Thursday.
Bengals cornerback Adam Jones is back from his one-game NFL suspension for Thursday night's game against the Texans (8:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5, NFL Network) at Paul Brown Stadium and in the not exactly breaking news department he's bringing an edge they'll need in the wake of Sunday's docile 20-0 home loss to the Ravens.
If you thought there was a little extra something missing, like attitude, confidence, swag, emotion, whatever you want to call it, you can count on Jones to bring it in droves.
"It's not about me. It's obviously going to take everybody to win the game," Jones said upon his return to the locker room Monday. "But I do a good job of initiating a fire and getting the guys going and play with a little bit more edge … I'm going to bring a lot of spark and attitude. You know that. I'm going to compete every play. And I'm going to try my best to make sure that everybody's in the game having fun and playing with an edge."
So he plans to have a talk with his teammates before Thursday in an effort to deter them from helping up opponents after the play.
"The hardest part was probably helping guys up," Jones said, reflecting on watching the Ravens game in civilian clothes. "I'm not big on helping anybody up and I have friends on other teams, but especially when we're losing. The competitive edge, we just have to keep it at a high level and realize everybody is playing for jobs. You're going to make mistakes, but don't forget the competitiveness."
Jones emphasized he's not saying "play nasty." But he sees nothing wrong with not extending a helping hand.
"Playing between the lines and running back to the huddle, help your guys up and have fun," Jones said. "I'm just saying you (don't have) to help nobody up. You hit them and you run back to the huddle. Is there something wrong with that?"
Darqueze Dennard goes back to the slot Thursday.
Jones says he's apologized to his teammates, coaches, and Bengals president Mike Brown for the Jan. 2 incident that led to his suspension via the league's personal conduct policy. But he has no apologies for the way he's covered Texans Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Back in 2015 when the Bengals were 8-0, the Texans came into PBS on a Monday night and Hopkins scored the only touchdown in a game the Texans coaxed out a 10-6 victory.
But Jones was draped all over Hopkins and he still made a remarkable 22-yard leaping one-handed catch even though Jones had him pinned to the left sideline in the end zone with 14:20 left in the game. Hopkins didn't have a catch in the first half and finished with just five for 57 yards during a season he was on pace for 132 catches. Then last year in the Great 12-10 Tractor Pull won by Houston, Hopkins had just 43 yards on three catches.
Cincinnati Ben-Gal Cheerleaders perform during the Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals game - 9/10/2017 *Photos taken by Steve France
So don't ask Jones with the Texans and the prime-time lights back here if he's got that '15 play on the mind in '17.
"He's caught one pass on me in the last three years. Why would it stick in my mind?" Jones asked. "Do the numbers. How many yards has he had on me? He caught one pass. The kid's a good receiver. He just got paid $100 million. But besides that pass, what has he done? So we'll see how it goes. He's one of the best. I love competing against him. But that play is nowhere near on my mind. My mind is only set to win the game and make sure I'm playing with confidence and play smart."
Jones is in his eighth season as a Bengal and never been 0-2. Two of his teams that lost openers made the playoffs in 2012 and 2013, but he's not thinking about devastation.
"Let's not start it this year," Jones said of 0-2. "I don't look at it like that. I look at it as taking one game at a time. I know if we play Bengal football, we should win the game, period, point blank. Give the guys up front time enough to rush. If they don't score, they can't win."
Darqueze Dennard played most of the snaps in Jones' absence on Sunday and the precision the position demands was on display. Sure, the Ravens didn't have to throw in the second half and according to ESPN they became the first team in six years to win a game without completing a second-half pass. But except for when he took a poor angle on wide receiver Jeremy Maclin's 48-yard touchdown catch-and-run, Dennard held up and he'll be back in the slot full-time with Jones back. William Jackson, who played his first 29 NFL snaps when Dennard went in the slot for nearly half the plays, also did OK, although he was nabbed for pass interference call that looked border line.
William Jackson played 29 snaps or 44 percent of the plays Sunday.
Head coach Marvin Lewis expects rookie Deshawn Watson to make his first NFL start Thursday night and that's just fine with the antsy Jones. Last week he worked out early in the morning every day before playing golf, but no one loves the game more than Jones and it could be Dr. Watson for all he cares.
"We're going to talk about it. It'll be fun. We'll see who they play. Pauli G does a good job of mixing things up, and we'll be ready," said Jones of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "I like the challenge of playing anybody. I don't care who it is, rookie, Tom Brady, whatever it is. I love playing. Nothing beats playing on Thursday night."
Cincinnati Bengals host Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium in week 1 of the regular season 9/10/2017