Adam Jones was once the biggest problem child in the NFL. He’s now one of the best and most respected players within the Bengals organization.

The cornerback and kick return specialist had five tackles, an interception and 66 return yards in the Bengals’ 27-24 overtime win over the Seahawks on Sunday.

He’s become, at 32, a leader on the Cincinnati defense.

“He’s not only a leader of the defense; he’s a leader of the football team,” former Bengals offensive lineman and current Bengals radio color analyst Dave Lapham clarified on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Everybody has huge respect for Adam Jones. He will freely tell you that Marvin Lewis saved his life because he was spinning out of control and Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown brought him to the Bengals organization and they tried to give him some structure.”

Structure certainly helped, but the biggest thing that changed Jones? Fatherhood.

“He’s got a daughter that he adores,” Lapham said. “She’s like three years old now, and his life is so much more stable. Fatherhood changes you. It changes everybody. It did change Adam Jones in my opinion. Some guys never get it, some guys get it later than people hope they get it but they finally get it, and some guys get it right away. Adam falls into that little-later-than-people-had-hoped (category).

“But I’ll tell you,” Lapham continued, “I say to him all the time: ‘Dude, you have to kiss your mother and father every chance you get because your gene pool’s unreal.’ The dude’s got 32-year-old man strength in a 23-year-old’s body. Chronologically, he’s 32, but he is a stud, man. This guy looks like he’s a kid. He looks like he’s a rookie. It’s unbelievable how he takes care of himself.”

While Jones has become the unsung hero of Cincinnati’s defense, Tyler Eifert has become the unsung hero of the offense. The 25-year-old Notre Dame product had eight catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle.

A first-round pick in 2013, Eifert has become one of the best tight ends in football.

“No doubt,” Lapham said. “When a guy can line up everywhere – they line him up as the widest receiver in a formation and he beats corners. This guy runs routes like a receiver. He’s 6-6, 250-plus pounds and can sink his hips and get in and out of cuts and run a route tree as well as anybody. He’s got great hands. He had that diving catch (against Seattle). Hue Jackson has lined him up everywhere.”

Eifert has also become a solid blocker for the Bengals.

“I’m not saying he’s dominant, but he’s persistent,” Lapham said. “He’s like a chihuahua biting at your ankles. He’ll stay on you. (Jackson will) line him up, he’ll detach him, he’ll put him in the slot, he’ll put him as the widest receiver, he’ll motion him from outside into the slot and get match-ups. He’s beaten safeties, he’s beaten linebackers, he’s beaten cornerbacks – he’s beaten everybody. So he’s one of those Swiss-army-knife tight ends that you can line up anywhere and get anything out of him. He’s a mismatch nightmare. He’s too fast for the backers and too big for the DBs.”


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