Remember when Marvin Jones silenced the Jets with four TDs in a 2013 game?
Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones says "my clock never stops in the red zone," but when he missed all of last season with foot and ankle injuries time ran out on his depleted offense.
Jones, it will be recalled in 2013, caught nine of his ten touchdowns from that precious real estate inside the 20 during a season the Bengals finished second in the NFL in scoring red zone touchdowns on their way to 430 points and their most ever under head coach Marvin Lewis.
With Jones sidelined all last season (not to mention losing A.J. Green for six games), quarterback Andy Dalton had only 11 touchdown passes in the red zone as the Bengals slid to No. 11 in the rankings and finished with 65 fewer points. Coincidence?
Who cares? They're glad they've got Jones back to team with Green, the tandem that combined for 21 TDs in 2013.
"Whenever we get in the red zone, every play can be a touchdown. That's how I feel," said Jones last week after he wrapped up his spring workouts. "That's how we have to think. Once we think like that, we're going to put ourselves in position to be successful. When we're in the red zone, its go time."
Jones' nine red zone TD catches are significant historically and traditionally. If he followed that up in 2014, Jones would have been tied for second most in the NFL with three highly decorated tight ends in New England's Rob Gronkowski, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, and San Diego's Antonio Gates, as well as fleet Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace. Only Green Bay Pro Bowl wide receiver Randall Cobb had more touchdown catches in the red zone with 10.
It's also a big number in Bengals' history, the most since wide receiver Carl Pickens caught what is believed to be the club record of 12 red-zone TDs in 1996. Chad Johnson, the club's all-time leading receiver, had seven in 2009 while Green had eight in 2012 and T.J. Houshmandzadeh eight in 2007.
That's not exactly chopped liver. Pickens and Houshmandzadeh are 2-3, respectively, on the club's all-time receptions list, and Green could be No. 4 pretty quickly because 88 catches put him into fifth past Isaac Curtis and 89 put him past Cris Collinsworth with a total of 418.
Never mind that Jones looked like his jaunty self during Thursday's final day of work. He ran and jumped with ease, but he also showed that inside-the-20 touch.
In one team drill on a snap where Dalton was forced to scramble, Jones broke off his route on the back line and beat safety Reggie Nelson to the ball and then couldn't hide his excitement when he chucked the ball against the wall.
"I saw the play extended. I had my eyes on (Dalton)," Jones said. "He started to break down and I just, boom, I just took off. I mean, shoot, we've been playing together for a while. That's what we do. Once the play broke (down) and you're in the red zone, you find a way."
The last month is the most Jones has worked in a year, but he wouldn't say that Thursday was his best day. But he thought it was a nice finish since the Bengals won't be back until the end of July. And it will be recalled that it was in early July that Jones aggravated an already tender ankle.
"It was a good one to end on,' he said. "I'm definitely happy after everything that has transpired for me to get back here and practice and make some plays. I'm ready to go."
The Bengals not only piled up 430 points with Jones and Green healthy two years ago. They also won the AFC North. But Jones doesn't plan to go back in time.
"I already scored 10 touchdowns,' he said. "I want more than that."