Watch Detroit Lions' Marvin Jones stay on the field through injury that sent him to IR
Marvin Jones could barely walk, but after catching his third and final pass late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Jones managed to hobble his way to the line of scrimmage and line up for one final play.
Jones wobbled in his stance as he waited for the ball to be snapped, and after the game he was in so much pain that he rode a medical cart to the Detroit Lions locker room. On Tuesday, the Lions placed Jones on injured reserve, ending his season prematurely for the second straight year.
“Honestly, during the game I saw it, I saw it when it happened live and I just saw it and I looked and I said, ‘Oh, no,’ ” Lions coach Matt Patricia said in a conference call Tuesday. “I knew it hurt, I knew that much, but I saw him get up. It’s pretty impressive. He got up, he got lined up, knew the situation, and it just shows his leadership, his toughness, his mental preparation."
Had Jones stayed down on the field injured, the Lions, who trailed 20-7 at the time and were out of timeouts, would have been forced to take a 10-second run-off on the clock.
“We talk a lot about the situation in the games and how things affect the game, and part of that is injuries," Patricia said. "We talk about those situations when somebody gets hurt or an injury happens, and he had just enough whereabouts to put himself in a situation where he didn’t want us to get hurt in that situation. Very impressed, but I think Marvin obviously is a tough guy, he’s a great part of our team and someone that’s really had a great year.”
Jones, in fact, was in the midst of what was almost a career-best season.
He has a team-leading 62 catches through 13 games for 779 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jones, who underwent season-ending knee surgery last December, finished four receptions and one touchdown shy of his career highs.
“He’s worked really hard, he’s been consistent all year. I think he’s improved this year drastically,” Patricia said. “I think I’ve talked about it with you guys before, about him just being every single day in the building the same, every single day trying to get better. He’s got great energy about him, and certainly was just really going in a great direction.”
Jones is the fourth key offensive skill player the Lions have lost to injured reserve this year, joining Kerryon Johnson (knee), T.J. Hockenson (ankle) and Marvin Hall (ankle).
Johnson returned to practice last week and is eligible to play in the final two games of the regular season, though the Lions have not indicated whether they expect him on the field.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford remains a candidate to go on injured reserve because of the back injury that has kept him out of the Lions’ past five games.
The Lions signed defensive tackle Frank Herron off the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad to take Jones’ roster spot, but they’ll have to make a move at wide receiver later this week.
Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola and Chris Lacy, who took Hall’s spot last month, are the only receivers on the active roster.
“Injuries are part of the game,” Patricia said. “We don’t like it, but they’re a part of the game, and it’s all about preparing the next guy to be ready to go.”
The Lions’ opponent this Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also will be without one of their best receivers as Mike Evans reportedly will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.
Evans is part of arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver duo. He has 61 catches for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns, while Chris Godwin has a team-leading 81 catches for 1,212 yards and nine touchdowns.
“He’s an excellent, excellent receiver and he lines up in various places,” Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said of Godwin. “He’s in the slot, true, but he’s an outside receiver, as well. He’s the kind of guy that is a go-to-guy, he’s a kind of guy where you have to know where he is. You really do have to know where he’s lined up and you have to be aware of his location on each snap. He’s a very, very good player.”
Tip of the cap
The NFL informed teams at the winter meetings Tuesday that the salary cap for 2020 will be between $196.8 million and $201.2 million, according to Pro Football Talk. The Lions currently have about $165 million in cap commitments for 2020, and could roll over another $19 million from this season, according to NFL Players Association records.
While that should leave the Lions more than $40 million in cap space, after accounting for their rookie pool, the team has several pending free-agent starters in Graham Glasgow, A’Shawn Robinson, Rashaan Melvin and Tavon Wilson, and could use some of its available room on a new contract for Golladay.