2 Dallas COWBOYS

Adam Jones is the latest recovery project, and (mentored by TO and Tank!) a talent who could put Big D over the top
August 31, 2008

ADAM JONES hasbecome famous for so many reasons—making it rain, flirting with pro wrestling,trying to rap, being interrogated by police, being interrogated by RogerGoodell—that it's hard to recall whether his football ability was ever one ofthem.

Jones is back onthe field after a yearlong suspension for his off-field misdeeds, findingrefuge in the most predictable place. Dallas has become the Boys Town of theNFL, owner Jerry Jones its Father Flanagan. Have a problem with yourquarterback, your firearm or the Las Vegas police department? Here, as Flanagansays in the movie, there is no such thing as a bad boy.

Two years ago theCowboys reformed wide receiver Terrell Owens, who had a history of alienatingquarterbacks. Last year they brought in nosetackle Tank Johnson, who liked tostore heavy artillery in his home. But those two are Silly Putty compared withAdam Jones, who has been arrested six times and had at least 10 encounters withpolice since Tennessee took him with the sixth pick in 2005. Even for BoysTown, Jones represents something of a challenge.

"What'snew?" Owens says. "With Jerry, you know the unexpected willhappen."

It's obvious whyDallas took a chance on Owens, perhaps the best receiver of his generation.Johnson, while not as celebrated, helped anchor the Bears' defensive line whenthey went to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season. But Jones, who was expected tobe formally reinstated by Goodell sometime before the season opener, has notplayed since '06, when he had four interceptions and returned three punts fortouchdowns. He was an exciting young talent, but no Pro Bowl player. TheCowboys, after trading a fourth- and a sixth-round pick to the Titans for himin April, slotted Jones as their third cornerback.

Why assume suchrisk for a guy who fills out the nickel package? Despite what the depth chartsays, the club believes Jones has Deion Sanders--like athletic ability andplans to exploit it. Coach Wade Phillips says he might use Jones at receiver aswell as on defense and have him return kickoffs in addition to punts. Clearly,Jones will soon start at corner.

"He'sexceptionally quick, and he's got the great speed," Phillips says. "Buthe's also got a knack that some players don't have for seeing the football whenhe's playing man-to-man. A lot of players can only see their guy. He can seehis guy, but he sees the ball at the same time."

In training campveteran cornerbacks often position themselves to cover rookie receivers inone-on-one drills. But in Cowboys camp Jones went the other way, setting up toface Owens as much as possible. Whenever Jones broke up a pass, secondary coachDave Campo came running over barking, "Nice job, Pac!" (Jones says he'sfine with teammates and coaches using his well-known nickname; the media isanother story.)

Owens and Johnsonare fashioning themselves as mentors to Jones—which not long ago would havebeen an amusing notion. Their protégé will need more polish, as evidenced byJones's reflections on the Titans. "I don't mean to say anything bad aboutTennessee," he said early in camp. "But I don't ever want to go back toTennessee. It sucks."

Dallas had themost talented team in the NFL before Jones arrived, and now it is even more so.The secondary, a perceived weak spot when it ranked 13th in pass defense lastseason, includes Jones, Terence Newman, Ken Hamlin, Roy Williams, Anthony Henryand rookie Mike Jenkins—a frightening ensemble.

Of course theCowboys had an NFL record 13 players selected to the Pro Bowl last season, andall that group got was a loss to the Giants in the second round of the playoffsand a long flight to Hawaii. Dallas hasn't won a playoff game since 1996, butthis final season at Texas Stadium might be the one in which the Cowboys snapthat streak in style. As they plan a trip to Tampa, perhaps only their baggagewill slow them down.

PROJECTEDSTARTING LINEUP WITH 2007 STATISTICS COACH WADE PHILLIPS (61--42 in NFL),second season with Cowboys

OFFENSE

Terrell OWENS
POS WR
REC 81
YARDS 1,355
TD 15

Marc COLOMBO
POS RT
HT 6'8"
WT 315
G 16

Marion BARBER
POS RB
ATT 204
YARDS 975
AVG 4.8
REC 44
YARDS 282
AVG 6.4
TD 12

Leonard DAVIS
POS RG
HT 6'6"
WT 354
G 16

Tony ROMO
POS QB
ATT 520
COMP 335
PCT 64.4
YARDS 4,211
TD 36
INT 19
RATING 97.4

Andre GURODE
POS C
HT 6'4"
WT 316
G 14

Deon ANDERSON
POS FB
ATT 0
YARDS 0
AVG —
REC 6
YARDS 55
AVG 9.2
TD 0

Kyle KOSIER
POS LG
HT 6'5"
WT 294
G 16

PatrickCRAYTON
POS WR
REC 50
YARDS 697
TD 7

Flozell ADAMS
POS LT
HT 6'7"
WT 340
G 16

Nick FOLK
POS K
FG 26--31
POINTS 131

Jason WITTEN
POS TE
REC 96
YARDS 1,145
TD 7

DEFENSE

Greg ELLIS
POS OLB
TACKLES 31
SACKS 12 1/2
INT 0

Terence NEWMAN
POS CB
TACKLES 50
INT 4

Marcus SPEARS
POS LE
TACKLES 30
SACKS 2

Bradie JAMES
POS ILB
TACKLES 101
SACKS 3
INT 0

Jay RATLIFF
POS NT
TACKLES 30
SACKS 3

Ken HAMLIN
POS FS
TACKLES 62
SACKS 0
INT 5

Chris CANTY
POS RE
TACKLES 43
SACKS 3 1/2

Zach THOMAS
POS ILB
TACKLES 52
SACKS 1
INT 0

DeMarcus WARE
POS OLB
TACKLES 84
SACKS 14
INT 0

Roy WILLIAMS
POS SS
TACKLES 89
SACKS 0
INT 2

Mat MCBRIAR
POS P
PUNTS 63
AVG 47.1

Anthony HENRY
POS CB
TACKLES 36
INT 6

NewACQUISITION

2007 RECORD 13--3NFL RANK (Rush/Pass/Total): OFFENSE 17/4/3 DEFENSE 6/13/9

SEPTEMBER
7 at Cleveland
15 PHILADELPHIA (M)
21 at Green Bay
28 WASHINGTON

OCTOBER
5 CINCINNATI
12 at Arizona
19 at St. Louis
26 TAMPA BAY

NOVEMBER
2 at N.Y. Giants
9 Bye
16 at Washington
23 SAN FRANCISCO
27 SEATTLE (T)

DECEMBER
7 at Pittsburgh
14 N.Y. GIANTS
20 BALTIMORE (Sa)
28 at Philadelphia

SCHEDULE STRENGTH
NFL Rank: 13
Opponents' 2007 winning percentage: .523
Games against playoff teams: 8

(M) Monday (T) Thursday (Sa) Saturday

NOW AT SI.COM
SI VAULT

EXCERPTED FROM SI
January 5, 1976

NOW THE ball is coming to earth as the scoreboardflickers away the final seconds of the game. There are two men underneath theball and suddenly one of them slips and falls, and the one who is supposed tocatch it does exactly that. Roger Staubach has thrown a pass to Drew Pearson,and the Dallas Cowboys have used up a lifetime of good fortune in a singleplay.
--Dan Jenkins

SI.com/vault
Free access to all COWBOYS stories and photographs from the SI archives, plusvideo clips.

UNIT GRADES

SI.com's NFL personnel expert Michael Lombardievaluates the Cowboys' units.

QB A
Romo can make all the throws, and he will keep getting better.

RB B+
Will be a top backfield if rookie Felix Jones gives them big plays.

WR B
Owens is one of the elite, but Crayton is more a No. 3 than a 2.

TE A
Witten rarely has a drop; tough, can block and will make plays.

OL A
Big and physical, deep at tackle; can be a dominating unit.

DL B+
Very solid, with nice blend of youth and age, speed and power.

LB B
Thomas lifts the unit; critical year for Anthony Spencer.

DB C+
Need more man-to-man players; teams can pass on Williams.

ST B
Kickers are very good; some concerns on coverage squads.

SPOTLIGHT

Isaiah Stanback
WIDE RECEIVER

Dallas waived vet Terry Glenn in part to commit toyounger receivers like Stanback, a sprinter and quarterback at Washington whowas drafted in the fourth round in 2007. While Stanback admits he's still rawfor a pro wideout, the Cowboys need someone who can stretch the field. SaysStanback, "I'm not worried about that."

PHOTOBRAD MANGINOVERQUALIFIED Given his cover skills, Jones likely won't be limited to the nickel for long. PHOTOTODD BIGELOW/AURORA PHOTOHEINZ KLUETMEIER (COVER) PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)