Still Some Work to Do

Cornerback Adam Jones' long layoff from live game action showed in the Cowboys' preseason opener, a 31-17 loss to San Diego.

While Jones' legend had seemingly grown during his time away and he had been impressive during training camp practices, the facts are that he still has not reached Pro Bowl status. He was talented and improving while with Tennessee, but still not a finished product.

So any thoughts of him coming to the Cowboys as a Deion Sanders-like shutdown corner in his return were extremely premature. The expectations only skyrocketed as he took on wide receiver Terrell Owens in practice.

But Jones found out against the Chargers that a game setting is a far different deal.

The only big plays he made against San Diego were the ones he was a victim of. Those included giving up a 21-yard completion to wide receiver Chris Chambers and a pass interference penalty for 18 yards. He also missed a tackle on Chargers running back Darren Sproles that netted a 21-yard gain.

"My timing is so messed up," Jones said. "I'll be all right. It's the first preseason game. Hopefully, by the last preseason game I'll be ready to go.

"With that Sproles play, that's kind of a hard play because there's so much in the open with that screen I was trying to make him cut back in."

The lowlight for Jones probably came in the third quarter when he was called for pass interference. It wiped out an interception by safety Pat Watkins and led to a Chargers touchdown.

"I felt like I got a good break on the ball, but I slipped," Jones said.

Coach Wade Phillips wasn't overly concerned about Jones' debut as a Cowboy.

"I think he was excited to get out there," Phillips said. "There wasn't a whole lot going on in his area and he played on some third downs where he covered his guy pretty well. He just wasn't involved a whole lot, but we kind of expected that."

And Jones was hardly alone in his struggles.

Rookie tight end Martellus Bennett dropped a pass and gave up a hit on the quarterback with poor pass blocking.

Rookie receiver Danny Amendola, who had become a training camp star, didn't catch a pass and then had a fumble on a punt return.

Quarterback Brad Johnson, nicknamed "Checkdown Johnson" by his teammates for his poor arm strength, had a rough outing. He was sacked twice and intercepted once.

Although he was let down by poor blocking up front, Johnson did nothing to soften calls for another quarterback to be added to the team. The Cowboys have scouted Miami quarterbacks John Beck and Josh McCown in anticipation of one of them being cut after the Dolphins signed Chad Pennington. Tampa Bay's Chris Simms also remains a potential target.

CAMP CALENDAR: Camp ends Aug. 12. The team then travels to Denver for two days of practices with the Broncos before a preseason game on Aug. 16.

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