Antwaan Randle El props up what Marvin Jones is contributing to Lions amid disappointing start

Marvin Jones has had a dismal start to the season, but Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El has lauded what he is contributing.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

With DJ Chark gone, Marvin Jones was a late but welcome addition to the Detroit Lions' receiving corps in free agency last offseason. Apart from what he could surely still do on the field, even at age-33, he would add a nice veteran presence to the room.

Jones had a rough outing in Week 1, posting the second-worst Pro Football Focus grade of all Lions' players (35.1) as he had two catches for eight yards and a fumble on six targets. Since then, he has one target, in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers, and Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire could not have said it better regarding that lone target.

"He’s (Jones) just not showing he can move at the requisite speed anymore. It really showed on his one target, a play where Goff led him away from the coverage but Jones just couldn’t close on a catchable throw. This isn’t the first game that’s happened in the young season."

Naturally, Jones' snap counts have fallen since Week 1, to 21 snaps in Week 4 and less than 30 snaps in each of the last two games. He has become a non-entity on the field, and with Jameson Williams back in the fold it's not as if his role is in line to grow. Rookie Antoine Green has also seen a slow increase in snaps.

Antwaan Randle El props up Marvin Jones amid dismal start to season

Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El spoke to the media on Tuesday. Williams' return to practice was a top topic, but he also talked about Jones (h/t to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News).

"It's clicking, it's just the opportunity," Randle El said. "I can't say enough about Marvin and what he's bringing to the table for us on the field — not just on the field, but in the room, too. As a 12-year veteran, I can be explaining something and some of the young guys can be like, 'Nah coach, I don't see it like that.' And then Marv says something, and it's like, 'OK, I get it."

"Marv will be fine. He'll bounce back more and more. … We got a long season. We need every guy."

Randle El is not going to say anything overtly negative about any player. Especially if it's, like Jones, a physical decline a player appears to be experiencing. So it becomes time to laud what he's doing behind the scenes. Which isn't to dismiss Jones' importance as a veteran presence and as something like a second position coach, but it's where we are now with him.

Spots on the active roster are in line to start getting tight for the Lions. Jones is not necessarily a cut candidate, at least based on Randle El's words, nor would he have much trade value based on what he's done this season.

But something, or someone, is going to have to give. It just might be nearing the end of the line for one of the most productive wide receivers in Lions' history.

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