Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Jones focuses on being a Pro Bowl receiver
By Coley Harvey
CINCINNATI -- Marvin Jones' list of individual goals for the season begins and ends with two words: Pro Bowl.
Months after emerging as a legitimate secondary passing option behind A.J. Green, the Cincinnati Bengals receiver is thinking all-star status can, and will, come during his third season.
"I want to go to the Pro Bowl," Jones said earlier this week. "Straight up. No sugarcoating it. I want to be one of the top receivers."
It's entirely possible he will be.
Marvin Jones aims to be more physical against defenses this season.
The former Bengals fifth-round pick was the team's second-leading receiver last season, hauling in 51 passes for 712 yards. Most of those yards came in the weeks after his career-high 122-yard, and four-touchdown performance against the Jets in Week 8. Only once in the previous seven weeks did he have more than 60 receiving yards in a single game. Following his breakout effort, though, he went beyond 60 yards receiving on four additional occasions.
"Obviously, I had a good year down the stretch, but I want a better year, and then I want a better year than that," Jones said. "I want to be one of the top receivers in the league. That's always been my goal, and I'm moving towards that.
"Us as a receiver corps, that's all of our goals. When we have goals like that, it makes it easy to go out there and go to work and do all the necessary things to get to where we need to be."
Part of what the Bengals' receivers want to be this offseason is bigger. Green, the three-time Pro Bowler, is among those Bengals wide outs who have spent the last four months bulking up. Green said earlier this week he's added between six to 10 pounds of muscle in order to play more physically at the line of scrimmage and to be tougher for cornerbacks down the field. He also joked that his advanced age could be the culprit behind the weight gain.
"I'm getting older, the weight is sticking to me," the 25-year-old said, laughing. "For me, it's about being more physical off the line, getting [cornerbacks'] hands down and just helping create that physical nature on the offensive side of the ball no matter what position."
That focus on physicality has come from up top. Had coach Marvin Lewis and new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson made it clear they want more of a smashmouth edge to their offense. They want to run more often and with better purpose. Their thought is that the pass should feed off the run. To that end, their backs and offensive linemen aren't the only ones who need to be physical. Their receivers do, too.
Coaches are pushing the receivers to be more combative when it comes to blocking in the running game, and more aggressive when it comes to fending off defensive backs for passes thrown their way. On more than one occasion last season, quarterback Andy Dalton threw interceptions that partially resulted from punchless efforts by receivers to break up those throws or to prevent them from being picked off.
Green has clearly heard the memo, noted by his visible weight gains. He looks noticeably bigger in his shoulders, arms and chest. Jones also returned to Paul Brown Stadium for offseason workouts this week with a larger upper body.
"It's about making everything look the same. Making sure that if it's a run, it looks like we're running downfield for a pass, and vice versa," Jones said. "That physicality starts in all spots with our burst [off the line] and how we act in the run game and the pass game."
Those intangibles -- fighting better for passes deep downfield, creating extra separation whether the ball is thrown his way or not, and holding blocks better for the running backs -- won't help get Jones to the Pro Bowl. He'll need receiving statistics and touchdowns. He'll need to catch enough timely passes that makes him compliment Green even better than he did last season. The pair were so in sync by the end of last year that they both had double-figure touchdown receptions. It was the first time in franchise history that multiple receivers had 10 or more touchdown catches.
The only receivers who reached last year's Pro Bowl were players who were the No. 1 passing options on their teams. Green, as he has been his entire career, was among the field.
Still, Jones is optimistic at this stage in the offseason that he still will not only build on his stellar sophomore season, but he'll completely overshadow it by claiming a Pro Bowl nod.
How does he do that?
"I just need to be Marvin Jones," he said. "Obviously I'm at the point where I'm going to start getting more snaps and things like that, so I need to just play and being the team guy that I am and letting the opportunities come to me. That's all I've done since I've been here. Controlling my opportunities, however many they are. If I keep doing that, then I'll get to where I need to be."