A.J. Green (right) and Marvin Jones became the first Bengals tandem in history to have double-digit TDs last season.
If wide receiver Marvin Jones can indeed play a week from Sunday, it gives the Bengals another striking option in an arsenal that has already scored the sixth most points in the NFL with the ninth best passing offense without him.
Here's a guy that has scored a touchdown every 6.3 catches lining up opposite A.J. Green, a three-time Pro Bowler going into the game against the Patriots as the sixth most prolific receiver in history after 50 games.
Jones doesn't figure to be at the top of his game if he gets the call in New England Oct. 5 for Sunday Night Football. Until Tuesday's light one-hour workout in which he took a couple of snaps, Jones has hardly practiced since the end of last season. A sore ankle took him out of the spring plus the first week of training camp and his return was marred by a broken fifth metatarsal on his foot that has shelved him, until Tuesday, since Aug. 9. He had a pin inserted in his foot a few days later.
"We'll ease him in,' said wide receivers coach James Urban. "We'll see how it goes. This is part of the rehab. Get him in there and see how he does with football. This (bye) week gives us a chance to keep the rehab going and when we come back Monday we'll put him put out there and we'll see how he's doing. It's going to be very guided. Hopefully as the week goes on he'll show more confidence in us and we'll show more confidence in him."
Despite playing just five snaps against Atlanta and having no catches for the first time in his career, Green's 4,066 yards in his first 50 games is historic. According to Elias, he's the fourth most prolific receiver in his first 50 games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
MOST RECEIVING YARDS IN FIRST 50 GAMES
Lance Alworth 4,785; Randy Moss 4,272; Jerry Rice 4,164; Charley Hennigan 4,155; Anquan Boldin 4,150; A.J. Green 4,066
And he's doing pretty well in his two full games this year. According to profootballfocus.com, he leads the NFL in yards per route (3.82), has the second best passer rating on balls thrown to him (137.5) and is tied for sixth in deep passing.
During his break-out season when he had 10 touchdown catches last year, Jones also ranked highly in PFF grades. He finished fifth in deep passing (converting eight deep catches for four touchdowns) and fifth in passer rating balls at 119.2.
(He may have made the biggest play last year. With the Bengals trailing 10-7 in the last minute of the first half in Detroit, Jones made a tough, physical, diving catch in the end zone where he tweaked his shoulder but held on to give the Bengals the lead in a game they won at the gun.)
Put the two together in offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's scheme where quarterback Andy Dalton has a 95.4 passer rating that is 10 points higher than his career mark coming into the season as well as two running backs who are threats, and it makes you wonder. Jones isn't not sure what Jackson has planned for him.
"I would think the same as I've been doing,' Jones said. "He's been doing a lot of creative stuff and I've been used in different kind of stuff like reverses. Who knows? I'm just going to go get ready to play and get ready to do what I always do and that's make those catches and make those explosive plays for the team. Whatever he has planned I'm OK with any of it.
"What I've been watching is an offense that's explosive and we're talking care of the ball," he said. "We knew from the first day he stepped in what we were going to do and stuff like that. It's very exciting to see him with his fiery attitude on the sideline. He's very passionate about it as we are…I can't wait to get out there and share that same intensity."
Jones admits the first all-out practices are going to be eye openers.
"It doesn't matter how much conditioning you do on the side, nothing can replicate you consistently running routes," Jones said. "People say if you've been out a while you've got fresh legs. It's really not. You come back and you have fresh legs for a couple of routes. After that it's dead legs.
"We've been doing this for a long time. We have that muscle memory, so after a couple of practices it goes away."
Even if he's not full go for the Pats, he should be worth the wait off how big of weapon he became last year. He has 69 career catches in two seasons and for those Bengals with at least 69 catches, he has the second best touchdown rate with a TD coming every 6.3 catches. Only the late Chris Henry has fewer at 5.7.
BENGALS CATCHES-TD RATIO
(At least 69 catches)
Chris Henry (2005-9) 21 TDs, 119 catches, 5.7; Marvin Jones (2012-) 11-69, 6.3; Eric Crabtree (1969-71) 11-73, 6.6; Isaac Curtis (1973-84) 53-416, 7.8; Terrell Owens (2010) 9-72, 8.0; Kelley Washington (2003-6) 9-72, 8.0; Bob Trumpy (1968-77) 35-298, 8.5.
"Marvin has been able to take advantage of his chances. He's a guy that doesn't let his opportunities slip away," Urban said. "We'll be adding a guy that's tough, explosive and a guy that made a lot of plays last year."