Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. and the Detroit Lions are hoping history can repeat itself.
In 2015, after missing the 2014 season with a foot injury, Jones had his best season up to that point in his career with 65 receptions for 816 yards and four scores. Jones entered free agency after the 2015 season and eventually found his way to Detroit on a five-year deal.
Jones again dealt with injury last season. A knee injury shorted his 2018 season to just nine games. His 35 receptions and 508 receiving yards were the lowest of his career since his rookie season in 2012.
“There’s always fuel,” Jones said of his motivation to have a bounce-back season in 2019. “It’s the same when I went down in 2014, I didn’t play that year. I came back and it’s always motivation.
“You always want motivation to pull from when you’re heading into the next year, particularly after injury. I’m just here, I’m up and moving now, moving great and just taking it day-by-day.”
Jones has been a consistent downfield threat for the Lions since joining the club in 2016. Over the past three seasons, his 16.8 average yards per catch are tops in the NFL among receivers who’ve played at least 20 games over that span. His four games with at least 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns are the third most in the NFL in that span.
“He has an unbelievable skill set to work with and kind of develop and it’s exciting that he loves competition and that he loves to be challenged and things like that are great as a coach because that’s how you improve,” head coach Matt Patricia said of Jones.
With Golladay emerging as a real up and comer in the league, and having the experience of a player like Amendola in the slot, Jones, 29, should could find himself with ample opportunities to see favorable matchups.
Coordinator Darrell Bevell wants his offense to be explosive in the passing game. They’re expected to take some shots down the field, which plays into Jones’ strengths as a receiver.
“Obviously, as a player and especially me as a player who has definitely accomplished some things, you always want to accomplish more,” Jones said. “If you’re not like that then you shouldn’t be out on the field.”