Stafford and Marvin Jones building chemistry

Posted Aug 10, 2016

It's still early, but it looks like the Matthew Stafford-Marvin Jones connection is going to be a strong one.

LATROBE, Pa. – It's only August, and the regular season is more than a month away, but there have already been a number of signs that quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Marvin Jones are building some nice chemistry.

The last two joint practices with the Pittsburgh Steelers were terrific proof of that.

Jones was clearly Stafford’s favorite target in the team portion of both practices Tuesday and Wednesday, and that’s been an ongoing theme throughout the first two weeks of training camp.

Jones caught three passes on a 16-play drive against the Steelers’ No. 1 defense on Tuesday. One of those was a big play along the sideline on a broken play after a fumbled snap.

“Stuff like that is fun,” Jones said of the long drive Tuesday that culminated in a 4-yard touchdown from Stafford to tight end Cole Wick.

“When you know that you have it in you to drive down the field. We have a lot of players that can do different things. It’s a great feeling.”

Stafford targeted Jones on three consecutive plays in a red-zone drill during Wednesday’s practice that got them inside the 10-yard line. Stafford found Golden Tate for the touchdown on the fourth play, and running back Zach Zenner added a two-point conversion run.

“I think it’s coming along,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of the early rapport Stafford and Jones seem to have. “I don’t think it’s there yet. I think they have some synergy there.

“I think he’s getting a feel for him in terms of how he runs routes and how Matthew wants him to run them. Where he expects the ball and all of those kids of things and it’s a work in progress. It just takes time and repetition, and I think they’re well on their way.”

Tate led the Lions in catches each of the last two seasons. He’ll continue to be a highly productive component of this offense, but Jones brings a different element to the table with his ability to get down the field and track the deep balls. Like Tate, he has a terrific knack for creating space late in routes.

Stafford and Jones connected on a terrific back-shoulder throw along the sideline in one-on-one drills Tuesday as if they’ve been playing together for years.

“Marvin, for a guy as big as he is, is really sudden,” Stafford said. “He can do a good job at the top of routes, whether it’s breaking in, breaking out, stopping or whatever it is. He’s a big guy that can use his frame, but at the same time has good feet.”

Jones caught a career-high 65 passes for 816 yards last year, and was the Lions’ top target in free agency at the receiver position. 

He might have had a slight advantage over the other Lions receivers the last two days because of his familiarity with the Steelers having spent the last four years in the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Obviously, I’ve played against their defense before the last four years. I kind of know them,” he said.

“I know their scheme. Telling (our) receivers how their corners play, just because I’ve watched a lot of film on them and played against them a lot.  I could tell the younger guys to ‘do this’ or ‘expect this.’”

The fact that Jones has stood out not only these last two days vs. the Steelers, but also throughout the eight practices in Allen Park and the mock game at Ford Field last week, is a good sign he’s fitting in just fine.