- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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WEST CARROLLTON, Ohio -- When asked after Monday evening's practice what Marvin Jones' injury meant to their team and how it might change plans going forward, Cincinnati Bengals coaches toed the company line.
"Nothing's changed," head coach Marvin Lewis said.
"I can't worry about him," offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. "He hasn't been out there."
They're both right.
As big as the news was late Monday that Jones was injured during Saturday's practice inside Paul Brown Stadium, it was more telling to see how flatly the Bengals responded to his now looming several-week absence. Lewis wasn't seen sweating any more than he has after a practice during this relatively cool southwest Ohio summer. Similarly, Jackson was calm, cool and collected when asked about Jones' time away from the team.
"I had him for what? A practice?" Jackson added. "You can't worry about the people that aren't here. You want him. I'm not saying that I don't. Marvin Jones is a huge part of what we do. But at the same time, I can't worry about that. I've got to take the guys we have and get them ready to play at a high level."
Jones' injury came less than a week after he had been cleared to return from an ankle issue that caused him to miss the first few practices of camp. In his place, A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu have picked up the slack in the passing game, as have the tight ends who have been involved in the Bengals' scheme to this part in camp. Sanu has been notably improved this preseason, and continues to be a multi-use weapon; the Bengals can use him as a receiver, rusher or even occasional quarterback.
Since the first-team offense has seemed to operate just fine so far without Jones, and seems to be executing at a high level, you can understand why the comparative nonchalance from the coaches exists.
What makes that nonchalance kind of alarming, though, is the statistics involved in Jones' loss. Last season, in what was a down year for Sanu, Jones emerged as Cincinnati's second-leading receiver behind Green. He caught 59 passes for 842 yards and 10 touchdowns in the regular season and playoffs combined. His breakout performance came in Week 8 against the Jets when he caught a team-record four touchdown passes.
He won't get to repeat that performance against the Jets this year. New York visits Cincinnati on Saturday in the second preseason game for both teams.
In order to make up for the production they'll miss from Jones for however long the next "few weeks" will be, the Bengals will need to continue doing what they have done so far offensively, veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said.
"The biggest thing -- and nothing against Marvin -- but it's kind of the philosophy we're trying to do offensively, and that's to play with intensity and passion," Whitworth said. "And the energy and the focus we have out on the football field, the intensity we play with, that tone, anybody on our football team can play that way. So whoever it is, whoever steps into that role has to play that way to where there is nothing missing. And when Marvin gets back, he can bring all the traits and abilities he has to make us better."
Lewis doesn't seem to think Jones will be out long, giving another reason to believe everything is going to be OK for the Bengals' offense. At some point early in the season when Jones seems expected to return, he can get paired with Green, Sanu and Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham, to give the offense an added dimension.
3dOhm Youngmisuk and Rich Cimini