Pacman starts comeback with return to Cowboys practice

IRVING, Texas -- Suspended cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was back at work with the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, going to meetings and a practice even though he can't suit up until Dec. 7 against Pittsburgh.

Jones is allowed to do everything but play in the next game -- Thursday against Seattle -- as he works his way back from his latest suspension, a six-game penalty for violating the league's player conduct policy. He previously was suspended for the entire 2007 season and coach Wade Phillips said Monday it's reasonable to believe another slip-up would get him permanently banned from the NFL.

"We've got to hope, for his sake really, that he has cleared all that up," Phillips said. "All the pressure is on him, really, to do the right thing."

Jones did not come into the locker room during the 45 minutes it was open to reporters. A team meeting followed, then an extended walkthrough that was closed to media.

By being around the team this week, Jones can start getting back into football shape. He also can start repairing whatever damage his absence might've caused in the locker room.

"He got to prove some things, obviously, but he's going to be welcome here," said linebacker Greg Ellis, a co-captain and the defense's elder statesman. "Time is the only thing that's going to make this better -- and good time, keeping your nose clean, doing the right things, making the right decisions, being in the right places at the right time and not at the wrong places at the wrong time. ...

"He can't let us down in the aspect of off-the-field issues. If he gives up a play here, that happens in football. But when you're doing things that take you away from your teammates because you're not keeping it together off the field, those are the kinds of things you can control most of the times."

Fellow cornerback Terence Newman said Jones is a good teammate.

"He hangs out with everybody," Newman said. "His track record isn't the best as far as him getting into trouble, but if you get to know the guy you find out he is a really good dude."

Jones started the first six games, breaking up enough passes that he still leads the club in that category. He also was the main punt returner. The Cowboys went 4-2 with him, and are 3-2 without him.

They've won the last two games for their first winning streak since September, with the defense playing well in both games. Adding Jones for the final month should make them even better as they fight for a wild-card berth.

"I think he fits fine," Phillips said. "He made a lot of plays for us when he played. Having not played for a year, I thought he really came along pretty well."

Phillips said coaches will wait until next week to determine Jones' role. With Newman playing through a groin injury and rookie Mike Jenkins missing the upcoming game with a hamstring problem, there's no point in deciding where to slot Jones until he's able to play.

Jones will no longer be provided with a team-hired bodyguard. The Cowboys tried that already, and the personal protector is the guy Jones wound up scuffling with during a party at a downtown hotel Oct. 7. He played the following Sunday, then was suspended indefinitely Oct. 14.

Jones spent much of his time away in an alcohol rehabilitation program. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he spoke to "clinical experts" before setting Jones' punishment at six games. The league hasn't outlined the terms of his return, except to say he must stay out of trouble.

"He's running out of chances," Newman said. "We will try and do our best to see that nothing happens. We have to do our part and keep him out of trouble."

Ellis warned against having high hopes about Jones, although it's not because he doesn't trust his teammate.

"He's a highly talented player so people have a tendency to say, 'OK, well, because he's that talented of a player, we're going to place everything on him,'" Ellis said. "We can't just depend on an absent guy who is coming back to change the whole complexion of the football team."