- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (AP) - Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Matt Jones was released a day early from a weeklong stay in jail for drinking beer in violation of his plea agreement for a drug charge.

The sheriff’s department said Judge Mary Ann Gunn issued an order Friday saying Jones could leave the lockup in Fayetteville on Saturday morning. No reason was given. Jones awaits An April 13 court appearance.

Messages left with Jones’ attorney and agent weren’t immediately returned.

At a hearing Monday, Gunn ordered Jones to stay in jail until Sunday, after he asked to be locked up rather than spend six weeks in a residential treatment facility.

Jones failed a drug and alcohol screening, explaining to Gunn on Monday that he drank beer while playing golf with friends the week before. He assured the judge that wouldn’t happen again.

Jones didn’t have a lawyer with him when appeared before Gunn, though Jones’ mother was present. Had he gone into residential treatment, the six weeks would have overlapped with the Jaguars’ spring drills.

The former Arkansas Razorback was charged in Fayetteville with cocaine possession in July. He was later suspended for the last three games of the 2008 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

His case was moved to the county’s drug court, where defendants submit to treatment and other restrictions, with the goal of keeping them from offending again. A defendant can wipe his record clean if the program is completed successfully.

In the plea agreement reached in October, Jones was ordered to participate in NFL-sponsored substance-abuse counseling and undergo random drug testing through the end of the football season. The judge told him to return to Fayetteville after the season to complete the program. Jones remains in the drug court program.

The Jaguars picked Jones in the first round of the NFL draft in 2005. Before his suspension last season, Jones was having the best year of his career, with 65 catches for 761 yards and two touchdowns.

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