Detroit Lions put Marvin Jones on IR, leaving WR corps in shambles

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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The Detroit Lions' three-strong receiving corps is down to one.

The Lions placed wide receiver Marvin Jones on injured reserve Monday because of a knee injury he suffered Nov. 11 in a loss to the Chicago Bears. He will be done for the year.

Jones missed the last two games because of the injury, and the Lions have struggled offensively in his absence — and really since they sent Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles at the October trade deadline.

The Lions, who entered the season with one of the best receiving trios in the NFL (Jones, Tate and Kenny Golladay) have averaged just 16.8 points in the four games since they traded Tate, and Matthew Stafford has thrown for 236 yards or fewer in three of those games.

Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones catches a touchdown pass in front of Packers DB Kevin King during the first half on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, at Ford Field.

Golladay has played well as the Lions' No. 1 receiver — he has 13 catches for 203 yards and one touchdown the last two weeks — but the Lions are so thin at the position that they've been relegated to playing TJ Jones and Bruce Ellington in starting roles.

Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller breaks up a pass intended for Detroit Lions receiver Marvin Jones at Soldier Field in Chicago, Nov. 11, 2018.

Jones has eight catches on the season, while Ellington has taken over as the Lions' primary slot receiver after signing earlier this month.

"We can’t look back in those situations," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "We just got to look forward, we got to keep pushing, there's nothing we can do about it and from that standpoint just gets other guys to go out and perform and go out and play at a high level and prepare and get ready to go. And certainly from our standpoint, that’s what we’re going to do and just do everything we can to figure it out."

Jones has been one of the Lions' best receivers since signing a five-year, $40 million deal in the spring of 2016, and he and Tate combined for an average of 149.5 catches, 2,055.5 yards and 11 touchdowns in the 2016-17 seasons.

Jones got off to a blazing start in his first four games as a Lion, when he had 23 catches for 482 yards in his first four games, but sputtered down the stretch that season against more physical coverage and finished with just 930 yards.

Last year, Jones had his best ever NFL season and after spending part of the spring working out with Randy Moss. He caught 61 passes for a career-high 1,101 yards and nine touchdowns.

This year, Jones had 35 catches for 508 yards in nine games, but he and Stafford struggled to rekindle the deep-ball connection that made them so dangerous last season.

Jones, who declined interview requests last week, is tied for the Lions lead with five touchdowns. In a recent social media post, he expressed disappointment that he had to watch a game from a suite instead of the sideline, writing, "regardless of what goes on I love my bothers and would do anything "THEM". Gotta get on the field with/for "THEM" and only them."

He did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment Monday, but addressed the move on Instagram, writing, "I'm good good & we look nothin but forward over here."

The Lions elevated linebacker Nick Grigsby from the practice squad to the active roster to take Jones' place, and re-signed defensive end Eric Lee to the practice squad.

Along with Golladay, TJ Jones and Ellington, the Lions have undrafted rookie Brandon Powell (one catch, 6 yards) and special-teams stalwart Andy Jones (one catch, 4 yards) at wide receiver.

"We always try to make sure we understand the roster and put guys in place on the roster that have an opportunity that go out and perform," Patricia said. "Certainly different guys in different areas have stepped up through the course of all the injuries that that we’ve had on all sides of the ball. When those situations arise, it’s a great opportunity for somebody else and whatever they do with that opportunity is where we’ll go from there."

Contact Dave Birkett: Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Download our Lions Xtra app for free on Apple and Android!

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