Part of the reason the Dallas Cowboys wanted Adam ``Pacman'' Jones was for his dazzling punt returns.
Through three games, he's yet to dazzle.
Jones has a total of 32 yards on eight returns, an average of 4.0. The longest went 8 yards. He's also fumbled one away.
``We have a guy back there that can make things happen,'' coach Wade Phillips said. ``That is an area we need to keep working on to get him loose, to give him an opportunity and for him to get a feel for where we are setting up the blocks and so forth.''
Over two years in Tennessee, Jones averaged more than 10 yards per return and scored four touchdowns. He was so convinced his game-breaking skills would return even after a yearlong suspension and a change of teams that he donned the No. 21 worn by Deion Sanders when he was a cornerback-punt returner for the Cowboys.
Phillips said the Cowboys are learning to adjust to Jones' tendency to improvise - say, taking it left even though his blocking is set up to the right, or not following his lead blocker because he saw an opening elsewhere.
``I think you have to have both. And if you can get him to the wall, he's gone. We just need some work on it and we need him to feel better about where the blocks are going to be.''
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BAD HABIT: Bengals running back Chris Perry is trying to break a bad habit.
The first-round draft pick from Michigan in 2004 has spent more time recovering from injury than playing in the NFL. He looked so good in training camp that the Bengals released Rudi Johnson in their final roster cut, giving the starting job to Perry.
So far, he's had mixed results.
Perry ranks 20th in the NFL with 180 yards in three games, averaging 3 yards per try. Against the Giants last Sunday, Perry ran for 54 yards in the first half and finished with 74 on 20 carries during a 26-23 loss in overtime.
``At least in the first half, I felt I was more patient,'' Perry said. ``Now I just need to make sure I keep my head up. The weird thing about an injury, especially with your ankle, is you tend to look down at the ground to make sure nothing's there when you make that step. It takes your eyes away from looking up the field and making your next move.''
bit he's developed.
He can't look down.
``That's something I've been doing that I have to stop,'' he said.
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TACKLING PROBLEM: Colts coach Tony Dungy laments the missed tackles he's seen over the past three weeks. He's not the only one. Whether it's New England or Indianapolis, the art of tackling has become a hot topic this season.
Dungy believes one explanation is that offensive players have simply gotten more adept at making defenders miss.
``I think the backs and receivers are probably better,'' Dungy said. ``You have faster, more athletic guys. You have bigger guys on offense and that comes into play. And then, I think, because of the rules changes, squad size and salary cap that you do less physical preparation in practice. So, I think, tackling may not be as precise as it has been.''
Indianapolis (1-2) is one example.
After allowing only two 100-yard rushers last season, the Colts have allowed four in the first three weeks this year, including an incredible 34-yard run from Fred Taylor on Sunday. Taylor ran into a logjam behind the line, then spun away, reversed field and broke two more tackles as he started to race down the sideline.
But as bleak as things sometimes appear, Dungy added some perspective to the Colts' plight.
id, drawing laughter. ``So I can't say that 12 or 15 or however many we had in the game against Jacksonville was a world record. In fact, I think that play we had seven missed tackles on went for 4 yards.''
---
BOOMERANG BEN: Ben Graham was hoping for a call from an NFL team. He just didn't expect it to be from the New York Jets.
After all, they had just cut the punter a few days earlier and Graham was at a high school field in San Diego to work out with fellow Aussie and friend Darren Bennett, a former NFL punter.
``They tried to contact me, my agent and Darren,'' Graham said. ``As it turned out, they contacted Darren's wife. She came racing down to the high school field and she said, 'You better answer the phone.' It's quite the turn of events.''
That's for sure. The Jets released Graham, in his fourth season with New York, after a poor outing in a loss to the New England Patriots. The team signed journeyman Reggie Hodges to the active roster and rookie Waylon Prather to the practice squad the next day.
``The Jets wanted to move me and that's understandable,'' the former Australian Football League star said. ``I had a bad game against the Patriots. I went back preparing for the next opportunity.''
the Chargers.
``How would you feel being fired from your job to be hired three or four days later?'' Graham said, laughing. ``It's awkward, but it's familiar. The guys were great. I understand the situation. They are happy to have me back. For how long? I guess we'll have to wait and see.''
Graham dropped his only two kicks against San Diego inside the Chargers 20-yard line with no returns, and is expected to be the Jets' punter again Sunday at home against Arizona. Hodges is still sidelined, and Prather was released Wednesday.
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GRASS ROOTS: Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Tustin High in California each have six players on NFL roster this season, according to USA Football.
In all, NFL players come from 1,393 high schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia, four foreign countries and American Samoa.
The six players who went to Dillard are Isaac Bruce of the 49ers, Chris Gamble of the Panthers, Jovan Haye of the Buccaneers, Stanley McClover of the Texans, Josh Shaw of the Broncos and Pat Sims of the Bengals.
From Tustin come Sam Baker of the Falcons, Beau Bell of the Browns, Chris Chester of the Ravens, DeShaun Foster of the 49ers, Matt McCoy of the Buccaneers and Frostee Rucker of the Bengals.
e former Southern Cal tackle is the son of former Arena Football League commissioner David Baker.
``Dillard just prepared me for life,'' defensive lineman Haye said. ``It also gave me a good football education. You played against some of the best the state has to offer and there is no better football than football in Florida, especially in the South Florida region.''
Four high schools had five NFL players each: Catholic of Baton Rouge, La.; De La Salle of Concord, Calif.; Evangel Christian of Shreveport, La.; and Glenville of Cleveland.
A total of 214 NFL players come from California, followed by Florida with 185 and Texas with 170.
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AP Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Jaime Aron in Dallas, Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Michael Marot in Indianapolis and Dennis Waszak Jr., in New York contributed to this story.

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