Wide Receiver Marvin Jones, the Bengals' fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, was finally able to play an entire game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. The Bengals had planned on featuring Jones on October 21st against the Steelers, but he suffered a knee injury early in that game and was hardly on the field until Sunday with the exception of a few snaps last week against the Raiders. Even with Andrew Hawkins returning, Jones' presence was much needed after wide receiver Mohamed Sanu's season was ended with a foot injury.
Jones was not only returning to an opportunity he was unable to see through in October, he was experiencing a homecoming of sorts, as Jones was returning to the west coast about two hours south of his hometown of Fontana, CA.
With a handful of friends and family present, Jones certainly saw his share of snaps on the offense. He was on the field for about 88 percent of offensive snaps on Sunday, as Josh Kirkendall has calculated. Of those snaps however, Jones was only targeted three times. He ended the game with two receptions and twenty yards, and his other target was a well thrown pass from Andy Dalton that bounced off the receiver's hands into the hands of former Bengals safety Corey Lynch.
Of course, mistakes are expected. Unfortunately, Marvin Jones missed a catch with heavy consequences. Jones has every opportunity to make a statement for his roster spot in the coming weeks. With Sanu out for the season, the Bengals will be depending on Jones to contribute in as many ways as possible. The Brandon Tate experiment is practically an afterthought beyond his usual special teams contributions and Armon Binns has been inactive, in either a literal or figurative sense, since before kids were trick-or-treating this season.
Jones did receive some praise from head coach Marvin Lewis after the game. Lewis complimented Jones on his block that opened up BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a 41-yard tear on the Bengals opening drive in San Diego.
Hopefully Marvin Jones will continue to move beyond the occasional rookie errors that come with a first year player and work toward his improvement as an NFL receiver. He certainly has great potential, and the Bengals will benefit greatly if he reaches it.