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Pacman knows he's not through proving himself
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IRVING, Texas (AP) _ Adam "Pacman" Jones let out an excited scream when he got the news he had waited so long to hear.
Yet that short verbal outburst in a parking lot and a phone call to his mother were about the extent of his celebration after the cornerback-kick returner found out Thursday that he had been fully reinstated by the NFL and cleared to play this season for the Dallas Cowboys.
After missing all last season while serving his NFL suspension, Jones realizes he's only one misstep from messing up all he has accomplished to get back on the field 20 months after playing his last game.
"I've been waiting for this time for a long time, but it's not like we won a Super Bowl," Jones said after his suspension was lifted. "I know my responsibilities to the NFL and I'm going to hold my own and do what I need to do to make sure I stay where I am right now, which is reinstated."
Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Jones in April 2007 after an accumulation of arrests and legal problems while Jones was with the Tennessee Titans.
Jones, acquired by Dallas in April, has been arrested six times and involved in a dozen incidents requiring police intervention since Tennessee drafted him in the first round in 2005. That includes his connection to a shooting at a Las Vegas strip club.
"I work hard every day to make sure I don't make the same mistakes," Jones said. "Can I say I would never ever make the same mistakes? No, I can't say that. I'll make sure I put myself in way better situations than I have put myself in the past."
Goodell said in June that Jones could practice and play in preseason games. But the commissioner still waited to rule whether to let Jones play in the regular season.
The news finally came hours before Dallas' final preseason game. Jones didn't play Thursday night against Minnesota, wearing his No. 21 jersey and shorts while on the sideline with the Cowboys starters watching the game.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail that Goodell planned no comment regarding the reinstatement.
Jones said he spoke to Aiello, but not the commissioner. The cornerback received congratulatory text messages from teammates as word of his reinstatement spread.
"Adam has worked hard to get to this point, but he also knows that there is still a lot of work ahead of him," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He is fully aware of the opportunity that he has been given, and he knows that this is an ongoing process."
Two weeks ago, "Pacman" sent a letter to Goodell asking to be cleared for the regular season, and saying he would stay out of trouble.
On Thursday, Jones said that includes "surrounding myself around the right people and staying out of gentlemen's clubs, having a great relationship with God and spending more time with my family."
Jones played in the first three preseason games, and started the third one when he was at left corner in place of injured Pro Bowler Terence Newman after rookie Mike Jenkins started the first two games. Jones had eight tackles and a pass deflection in his three games.
Newman (groin) is expected to be back for the Sept. 7 opener at Cleveland, but Jones will still be a prominent player on passing downs and special teams. Jones had punt returns of 18 and 24 yards during the preseason, and coach Wade Phillips said this week that he was considering Jones for kickoff returns because of injuries in that spot.
The Cowboys had been operating under the assumption that Jones would indeed be reinstated for the season. Jones' involvement in different schemes increased throughout camp as he got comfortable in the system.
"We're certainly gratified that Adam Jones is going to be with us," Phillips said. "We planned that way, but it always could have been different. We're glad to have him and we think he'll do a good job for us."
After Jones first joined the team for practice in June, he said he had owned up to his bad decisions and was focused on the future and getting back into the game for the first time since his NFL game Dec. 31, 2006.
"I think from the beginning there were a lot of critics saying that this couldn't be done, that he couldn't turn his life around," said Manny Arora, Jones' agent and attorney. "I'm very happy for Adam. He's proven everyone wrong. He's got a very bright personal and professional future."

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