ALLEN PARK — Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones spent the first four seasons of his NFL career playing for the Bengals. So it will be a homecoming of sort when the Lions play at Cincinnati on Sunday.
He downplayed the significance.
“I’m just going to see a couple friends I have there, but other than that there’s no significance,’’ Jones said. “Not nostalgic or anything, it will be cool to go there and just play.’’
Jones is just 30 yards shy of his first 1,000 receiving yards season. Since he averages 69.2 receiving yards per game, there’s a good chance he’ll reach that milestone on Sunday against the Bengals.
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
“It’s always a milestone for a receiver to go over a thousand, I’m looking forward to it,’’ Jones said.
After 14 games he has 54 catches for 970 yards (a career high) and eight touchdowns.
Since he signed with the Lions as a free agent in 2016, Jones and Matthew Stafford have developed a solid connection.
“Marv’s put a lot of work in. I think our system and the system he came from in Cincinnati is quite a bit different, and he did a great job of adjusting, putting the work in. And then, on Sundays he just goes out there and makes plays,’’ Stafford said on Wednesday. “I’m giving him chances on certain throws, and he’s going up and making me right more often than not. So, it’s nice to have.”
The most recent example was a 58-yard completion on third-and-18 in Saturday’s 20-10 win over the Bears. He wasn’t paying attention to anything around him.
“Just go get the ball, that’s it. Locating the ball, running as fast as I can to go meet it and just catch it,’’ Jones said.
“I wasn’t really worried whoever was behind me, I just said I have to get up and get it. I jumped early so I had to wait. That’s kind of what I thought. I jumped early I just had to stay up there for a little bit,’’ Jones said.
He said that was a ball only Matthew Stafford could throw.
“Whenever he breaks out of the pocket, I’m looking and I say, ‘OK.’ I just put my head down, I run, I look up and there it goes,’’ Jones said. “… I see his eyes and I just take off.”
Coach Jim Caldwell has commented through this season about how hard Jones worked to improve in the offseason.
“I think just precision and his route running has gotten a whole lot better, and with that has come separation at the top of routes and all that kind of stuff, the better you get at running them. And like I said, some of the routes that we’re asking him to run here are probably different than what he had done in the past, so it took some time, and some effort, and some concentration, and focus on those details and he’s done a nice job with that,’’ Stafford said.
So it just makes sense that Stafford has developed more confidence in Jones who had 55 catches for 930 yards and four touchdowns in 2016.
“I think the more and more you play with guys the more you understand their body language at the top of routes and whether or not they can win,’’ Stafford said. “And I’m getting that with all of our guys at the moment, so just trying to continue to put the ball in a good spot, let those guys go and make plays like they’re doing.’’
BONUS: Wide receiver T.J. Jones was placed on injured reserve after injuring his shoulder on Saturday. He’s being replaced on the roster by wide receiver Andy Jones, who spent time on the Lions’ practice squad. Of course, they join Marvin Jones. Apparently it’s key for the Lions to have two receivers named Jones.