Updated: 5:40 p.m.
On Monday, Bengals cornerback Adam Jones did a groundbreaking interview with the Nashville media he disdained during his troubled tenure with the Titans and took responsibility for much of the havoc he wrought off the field.
On Wednesday, Jones said he's not going to be a hero in his effort to come back this Sunday in Tennessee (4:05 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) from the hamstring he tweaked in Seattle last week on the longest Bengals punt return (63 yards) in 128 games.
The maturation continues.
At 5-2, Jones realizes the Bengals are looking at a final nine games in the playoff pressure-cooker and not just Sunday's date against the team that drafted him and the one he feels didn't always have his back.
"God knows what's going to happen to the other two corners, if they're going to have a nicknack or something?" Jones asked before sitting out Wednesday's practice. "Like I said, what week is this? Ninth week? Still got a lot more football to play. I'll just deal with the injury accordingly. I'm not trying to be a hero. And I'm definitely not trying to hurt myself or my teammates. So, hey, if I can play, if I feel more than 65 or 70 percent and I can play a decent speed, I'll play. If I can't play at a decent speed, I won't play."
Jones insists he's sped past being the NFL's public enemy No. 1, which got him suspended for the 2007 season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, got him traded from Tennessee to Dallas in 2008, and got him unemployed in 2009 after a barrage of off-field legal problems.
"I know people are like, 'He can't wait to get back down there and show off' or this and that,' " Jones said. "But I've came to past with Tennessee. I have no regrets. I'm happy here in Cincinnati. The city of Cincinnati is what I'm worried about. I could care less about Tennessee."
Jones was more emphatic with Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, the newspaper's long-time Titans beat reporter, on Monday. Wyatt asked him if he was out of control during his two seasons in Tennessee.
"I plead the Fifth. You can put that (expletive) in the Tennessee papers," Jones said. "Why would I tell you? That would be a headline story, I know. But I take responsibility. I don't have any regrets, no regrets. But there ain't nothing working out in Tennessee; they done got rid of one of the best coaches in the NFL. I loved (former head coach Jeff) Fisher. He was good to me."
The Titans made Jones the sixth pick in the 2005 draft, and the next season he returned three punts for touchdowns before disappearing for a year.
"It would have never worked for me in Tennessee," Jones told Wyatt. "I was 21 or 22, and I didn't understand what I understand now. I was out every night enjoying myself. I wasn't really focusing on football. I had a lot of distractions. I take responsibly for everything that went on back then, and have learned from it.
"Yeah, I did (mess) things up off the field. I blame myself for that. But I will say when times got hard, (the Titans) weren't there for me. But I ain't holding no grudges, man. Life is too short for grudges. I don't have time for all of that."
One avid reader turned out to be Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and he praised Jones for saying all the right things.
"I thought he did an excellent job of really, very short, contrite, said what he needed to say and that was the end of it; business at hand," Lewis said at his Wednesday news conference. "He's come a long ways. We didn't know him years ago, but since we've had him and been around him, he's come a long ways."
But Lewis probably wishes he was just as short with the Tennessee media Wednesday when he took some heat for comments he made in a conference call regarding Jones's college career at West Virginia.
"It's unfortunate a guy could go into college and spent three years on a college campus and* *not learn some of the things they should really learn," Lewis said. "But hopefully he has learned those lessons now."
Right now, Jones is just trying to learn about how his hamstring feels by Friday.
"If the day was today, could I play? Yeah, I could play," Jones said. "Would I play is a big question. I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize myself, first of all, or what we're trying to do as a team. If it's better for me to sit out this week and wait till next week to play for myself and my team, that's what I would do. Like I said, we'll make decisions accordingly. Right now, I don't know. It is what it is."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Despite the iffy status of Jones's hamstring for this Sunday's game, the Bengals cut another cornerback Wednesday when they released Morgan Trent to make room for running back Cedric Benson on the roster.
If Jones can't play, the Bengals can do what they've done in other games this season and go with three corners (Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Kelly Jennings) with safety Chris Crocker available to play the slot. Trent, a sixth-round pick in 2009, was the third corner as a rookie for the division sweep. The arrival of Jones and a knee injury last season diminished his role. When Jones was active for the first time this season last Sunday, Trent was inactive for the first time this season.
» Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, who has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, said pretty much the same thing as Jones before practice. He's out of the boot and a walking cast, but he said he he won't work Wednesday, when he'll rehab on the side with rehab specialist Nick Cosgray, and says he's day-to-day. And he was on the field lining up at running back during defensive drills, but that's as close as he got.
» Tight end Jermaine Gresham (hamstring), a game-time scratch last Sunday in Seattle, worked on the side Wednesday and Lewis is uncertain if he'll be available this Sunday. Lewis said backups Donald Lee and Colin Cochart played well enough in Gresham's place the Bengals are ready to go another week without him if need be. Lewis said the depth is good enough that line of thinking follows for the rest of his club.
» Looking to get some youngsters work in practice, Lewis on Wednesday rested the 30-something guys in Clements (knee) and Crocker (knee).
» Outside linebacker Thomas Howard, who played very few snaps in Seattle after injuring his hamstring Oct. 16 in the third quarter of the Colts game, was limited Wednesday. So was left end Carlos Dunlap (groin).
» Also on Wednesday, Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his 56-yard punt return that sealed last Sunday's 34-12 win in Seattle. The last Bengal to win it was Mike Nugent when his five field goals accounted for all the Bengals scoring in a win over Baltimore in the second week of last season.
» With the huge LSU-Alabama game coming up this weekend, the Bengals tackles are more than interested. LSU left tackle Andrew Whitworth said no money is being bet, but he'd like to see Alabama right tackle Andre Smith in a jumpsuit with LSU colors next week. Smith responded, "Never. I'd never wear those colors in my life. Too ugly."
» Running back Cedric Benson is happy to be back after his one-game suspension, but said the two-week layoff with the bye got him rejuvenated and gave him time to put life and football issues into perspective. "But I hated to miss a game," he added. He spent the suspension back in Texas, but didn't watch Sunday's game because he was traveling back to Cincinnati.
» Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck gave his daughter a choice of anywhere to celebrate her 10th birthday during Tennessee's bye on Oct. 16 and she chose Cincinnati, home of her family's roots. Matt's dad is LaSalle grad and former Patriots tight end Don Hasselbeck. They made the drive from Nashville to visit family and friends and had planned to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum on the way, but they couldn't wait to get to Cincy and didn't stop, Hasselbeck said Wednesday on his conference call with the Cincinnati media.
» Hasselbeck didn't know Andy Dalton's name ("No. 14 there"), but he said he's his favorite one to watch of the rookie QBs that are playing. He likes how quickly and accurately Dalton delivers the ball. Another Dalton fan is Hasselbeck's backup, Jake Locker, one of those rookies that isn't playing who was the eighth pick in the draft.
"I'm not sure who's calling the plays, but they're doing a good job," Hasselbeck said. "I know Jake is fan of 14 there as a person. When you like the guy that you're watching, you end up watching a little bit more of them when you get to pick what film you want to watch. So we've been watching some Bengals film."
» Speaking of quarterbacks, CBS is pushing its interview Sterling Sharpe is doing with Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer for Sunday's telecast to set up Oakland's home game against Denver. The Raiders are playing the same time as the Bengals.