Updated: 8:35 p.m.
The notification came out of the NFL office Wednesday morning and Bengals cornerback Adam Jones had nothing to worry about from the powers that be in New York. It read that he had been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in the wake of his 81-yard punt return against Cleveland and all he could do was just shrug.
"It's good. Something else to hang up. I hope I get a couple of more," Jones said before Wednesday's practice. "I'm just keeping my head down, focusing, and working and not looking up."
The next one will be the sixth of his career and tie Jones with one of his two all-time favorite players, Hall of Famer Deion Sanders (the other is Emmitt Smith), and as Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons says, "Adam has plenty of tread left."
Suspensions and injuries have limited Jones to 54 games and 94 punt returns and he turns 29 on the last day of the month. Sanders amassed six returns in 212 shots. Devin Hester, still active, has the NFL record with 12 punt return TDs on 209 attempts.
(Like Jones, Hester, who turns 30 in November, has three returns this season. Jones is second in the NFL with a 30-yard average and Hester is 18th at 10.3.)
Jones is already in some Hall of Fame company. He went nearly six years between punt return touchdowns. How long ago was that final regular-season game of 2006 when he took it back for the Titans against New England? It was Patriots running back Corey Dillon's last regular-season game of his career.
It's one of the longest spans in history, a record that Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny is probably going to keep with returns stretching from Truman (Oct. 19, 1952) to Kennedy (Dec. 17, 1961). It took Jones only one election going from Bush 43 to Obama.
The funny thing is that Sanders is a major reason Jones is still playing. He's tight with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and lobbied him to give Jones a shot back in the spring of 2010.
And Simmons has become a big proponent. He has prepared for both Jones and Sanders and he sees more similarities than differences. He caught Sanders with both Dallas and Washington and saw the Titans in '05 with the Bengals when the Jones that ended up returning for Tennessee was Brandon.
"Deion was like Ed Reed and Adam. When they have the ball, they don't think they can get tackled. That's half the battle," Simmons said. "Both of them have great quickness. No one in the league was faster than Deion, that's what made him special. Adam isn't as fast as Deion, but he's plenty fast. Fast enough, that's for sure."
Jones says he has no idea what happens when he pops one. It's not until he goes back to the tape. What he saw Monday was a swarm of blockers. From rookie safety George Iloka to slot receiver Andrew Hawkins to third-down back Brian Leonard to starting safety Jeromy Miles taking out punter Reggie Hodges to finish it.
"Hawk made an unbelievable block to slow the guy down," Jones said. "My guys did a great job. They never quit on the play. It's the little things that make the outcome. Without those blocks, there's no way I score."
B-SCOTT READY: A brief reintroduction of fourth-year running back Bernard Scott, who disappeared back on Aug. 3 when he broke his right hand. Scott went full go in practice Wednesday and he's pretty certain he'll get the call Sunday in Washington (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) for his 2012 debut.
Scott came into his third season last year averaging 4.6 yards per his 135 carries as the Bengals "speed back," a complement to starter Cedric Benson. Then last year when new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden began mixing him in the rotation for a career-best 112 carries, he could only muster 3.4 yards per carry.
Now with Gruden more intent on going back-by-committee with newcomer BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Scott is more than ready. He returned from the offseason committed to being "more of a student of the game."
Asked how he wants to contribute Sunday, Scott said, "be an all-round back, pick up the blitz, when my number's called, do what I do."
Scott has no concerns about the hand. He says the pins that were inserted to help it heal were taken out three weeks ago and he's been getting used to a hand pad while catching and running with it the past week. Since he's a lefty and carries the ball with his left hand he says, "It's no big deal."
SUPPORTING REY:With Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga in the middle of the firestorm surrounding the defense's No. 30 ranking in the NFL after the first two games, linebackers coach Paul Guenther offered support for his beleaguered fourth-year player.
"He needs to play better. He knows that. We know that," Guenther said after Wednesday's practice. "I think he's had some good plays and he's got some plays he could play better on."
Three plays in particular are giving Maualuga heat. He couldn't get off center Alex Mack's block on Browns running back Trent Richardson's untouched 32-yard touchdown run and he was one of four Bengals that missed Richardson inside the Bengals 10 on a 23-yard touchdown catch. And late in the first half Maualuga misplayed a pass to Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya so close to the line of scrimmage that it turned into a 21-yard gain through an open middle before cornerback Terence Newman forced a fumble that right end Michael Johnson recovered.
But Gunether is reminding people that Maualuga sprained his MCL on the first series of the preseason and didn't play in a game until the regular-season opener.
"A lot of people are criticizing him, but he knows himself that he needs to play better and he will play better," Guenther said. "You have to understand something. He sat out all preseason except for four plays. So really he's only a couple of weeks into this thing. He knows."
Meanwhile Maualuga's backup, rookie Vontaze Burfict, played 22 snaps at the WILL backer spot after not practicing there until Thomas Howard tore his ACL in last Thursday's practice. It's why the team is so high on Burfict. He can pick up concepts easily and he has razor-sharp football instincts.
"Never played there in his life and came into his first NFL game and did a good job, didn't blink," Guenther said. "The only two guys who had taken snaps for us at that spot were Thomas and Vinnie Rey."
Guenther hinted that he may try to even out the snaps Sunday in Washington (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) after Rey played 45 snaps from scrimmage and 21 more on special teams against the Browns while Burfict played 10 special teams snaps. Because it was so late in the week, the Bengals didn't want to hamstring what special teams coach Darrin Simmons had ready.
"I was trying to even out those snaps for that game. Now we have a week to prepare for another opponent," Guenther said. "I can plan a little bit better."
CHAD OPENS UP: Bengals all-time leading receiver Chad Johnson had what has been described by Showtime Sports as an emotional first interview since his world crumbled last month. The interview with James Brown and Cris Collinsworth, a former all-time Bengals leading receiver, airs on the network at 9 p.m. Wednesday as part of its weekly "Inside the NFL" program, and Johnson pulls no punches in what is simply a sad story.
Johnson, cut by the Dolphins following an altercation with his wife in which he has been charged, said he's not only taking anger management classes but also trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
"I am in a structured program. For one, I'm taking classes, anger management classes. I'm trying to find out how can I channel my anger when I'm in situations to where I would pop off," he said. "How can I diffuse those situations, trigger points?"
Johnson, 34, admitted there was an incident, which resulted in her filing for divorce.
"I take full responsibility for everything always. Always will, always have," Johnson said. "Where do I go from here? I think about it. I've got to work on Chad. Chad has to work on Chad. Chad has to go deep down inside and figure out where he went wrong. At what point did you lose focus on what's most important? Like especially the game of football. ... At some point I had drifted off track away from that and being one of the best at what I do. Not only being the best at what I do, but I would tell you what I'm getting ready to do, and I would do it."