* Marvin Jones looks to have back his snap-crackle-pop.*
And on the third day the media finally got to see Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones practice.
It's been a year, but Jones wasted no time Tuesday in his third practice of his comeback rewinding memories back to 2013 and his 10-TD season. On the first snap of one 11-on-11 segment, Jones went on a go route past cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and kept going as quarterback Andy Dalton dropped an easy one over Jones' left shoulder.
That snap-crackle-pop off the line of scrimmage that creates separation appears to be intact after surgeries on a broken foot and balky ankle wiped out all of 2014.
Even Jones had a smile that said, so far, the sizzle has survived the knife. Even though he's been back for a few days and has been full go for about four months. If it wasn't a smile of relief, it was of at least satisfaction.
"I wouldn't say a relief," Jones said after practice. "Just to know I'm as fast as I was, it's good feeling because I haven't really opened it up like that in a long time….It just feels great catching, reading coverages, everything that's been involved in this whole process to where I am now is great."
Throw in a couple of diving grabs to pick balls off the grass at the chilly Paul Brown Stadium practice fields, and his coaches were warmed by the addition of a player that confounded defenses two years ago when matched opposite perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.
"Marv is explosive and fast and he's got all that natural ability to him,' said wide receivers coach James Urban. "He's a high-energy guy starting to feel good."
After injuries to his best receivers rendered last season's passing attack lackluster, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is seeking to inject that kind of synergy and if that takes a couple of diving catches, so be it. Coaches cringe in practice when receivers leave their feet (i.e. Andrew Hawkins' leap that sent him to IR-Return in a 2013 training camp workout), but Jackson may have been looking the other way Tuesday.
"We want them to stay up," Jackson said. "But every now and then, that's what receivers do. They make plays on the ball. A.J. has done that out here and we tell them to be careful. But I think they're being aggressive to the ball. That's something we need to do a little bit better job of."
What Jones' aggressiveness and speed mean are incalculable. According to profootballfocus.com, in 2013 he finished tied for fifth among NFL wide receivers for productivity on targets of at least 20 yards. Without him last year, Green was graded the highest Bengal in that category at No. 33.
"I'm here to pick up where I left off," Jones said. "To help this team."
Urban is making sure he takes it slowly. There may be burst, but there is also rust. There is also perpetual interplay with rehab chief Nick Cosgray. His return to practice was delayed last week by a hamstring issue, but it was worth the wait.
"There are certain routes where he'll grit his teeth and say, 'I didn't get my depth,'" Urban said. "He's knocking off the rust a little bit. We're just letting his body tell us what to do. Nick has done a good job. Marv will say I'm good, or he'll back off. Today was a good day. The weather was good, we hadn't done anything since Thursday, so he had a few days to get his legs back. We're taking it a day at a time."
As good as he was on the deep ball in '13, nine of his touchdowns were courtesy of red-zone toughness.
"He's Marvin Jones. He's what he was when he left," said Jackson after practice. "He can run, he can catch, he's explosive. He's sudden. He's quick. He's fast. He's all those things."
Urban also thought he saw that '13 quickness Tuesday, particularly on the go route that went.
"It looked good to me," said Urban, if not with a sigh then with a smile.