FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones pleaded not guilty Monday to possession of cocaine, a charge that carries up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Jones, who is free on a $2,500 bond, faces an Oct. 10 trial date -- two days before the Jaguars play at Denver.
The 25-year-old Jones, a former Arkansas Razorback quarterback who was taken in the first round by Jacksonville in 2005, was arrested July 10 when a Fayetteville police officer saw him inside a car allegedly cutting up cocaine with a credit card.
Jones' father, Steve, has denied the cocaine was in his son's possession. He acknowledged it was in the vehicle, however, and in "closest proximity to Matt."
Neither Jones nor his attorney would comment to reporters after the brief hearing Monday morning.
During his time with the Jaguars, Jones has been criticized for not living up to his potential. But Jones stood out in the team's first preseason scrimmage and drew praise from coach Jack Del Rio.
Jones had three catches for 37 yards in Jacksonville's 20-17 victory Saturday night over the Atlanta Falcons.
Jones said he has had injury trouble that has kept him from being at his best the past two years. The Florida Times-Union reported that before training camp Jones was at workouts in Greensboro, N.C., run by former NFL receiver Ricky Proehl, where he worked on routes.
Jones' prospects appeared dim when the Jaguars added receivers in the off season, signing free agent Jerry Porter (six years, $30 million) and acquiring former first-round pick Troy Williamson. However, injuries to Porter (torn hamstring) and Reggie Williams (right knee) have led to more repetitions for Jones.
A couple of weeks after his arrest, Jones apologized to Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, Del Rio and his teammates.
Jones caught 101 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first three seasons.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press