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Marv opens it up for opener


Marvin Jones got into it Wednesday.

Maybe it was because it was a New York team.

Wide receiver Marvin Jones, the X factor in offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's formula, had the best day of his comeback from last year's foot miseries that cost him all of the 2014 season when he and the Bengals operated in high gear Wednesday during the final joint practice with the Giants.

(The X Factor? Remember this. The last time he played in a game he set the Bengals playoff record with 130 receiving yards.)

After an estimated record crowd of 2,600 at the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields watched the Bengals' last tune-up before Friday's preseason opener (7:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against New York at Paul Brown Stadium, Jones pronounced himself fit for the last step of his comeback.

"Preseason gam

es bridge a gap from the preseason to the regular season," Jones said. "But it's a good opportunity to go. It's the final step of the process and take hits and score touchdowns and run and do all the stuff I can do. It's good to do that.

"I opened it up really for the first time since I've been back in this thing," Jones said. "Every time you can get football moments where you fall and it gets gritty and some body cleats you like I got cleated, I got up and said, 'OK. That's cool. You want those. I haven't been in those situations and for me to get back doing that is pretty cool."

Stepping back into the first team mix, Jones helped quarterback Andy Dalton hit 18 of 27 passes in team drills against the Giants even though they cut back Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green's snaps. But there were still plenty of targets.

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and tight end Tyler Eifert marauded through the New York secondary as Dalton hit 10 of his first 11 throws and running back Giovani Bernard brought the house down with one of his cut-on-the-dime sweeps that he knifed back inside and didn't get touched on a push to the left side. Even the kids got into the act with rookie tight end Tyler Kroft matching his Rutgers soul mate Sanu with a red-zone touchdown.

Jones admitted it was fun to watch again. Like it was in 2013, when he had 10 touchdowns, including a team-record four against the Jets.

"It's always good when we're all back together and you can see everyone, including the draft picks," Jones said. "When we're all rolling, it's pretty fun and it was real fun today."

Jones said Dalton urged them before practice to get a quick start after Tuesday's sloppiness sent Jackson on a Tuesday night mission in the meetings.

"(Dalton) said in order for us to be the team we can be, we have to get into it from the start," Jones said. "Obviously there are still things we have to work on, but it was a good day."

Jackson, who uses red dots on the big screen in the meeting room to correct mistakes, was busy on Tuesday night.

 "I told you we'll fix it," Jackson said. "I don't worry like some people because I know the kind of guys we've got.  You don't want to lay an egg. You don't want to lay an egg during the season and we've done that. That can't happen…We're going to nip those things."

Having Jones helps and there's got to be some easier breathing exhaling around PBS. Jones' comeback last week was nipped with a hamstring problem that kept him out long enough that head coach Marvin Lewis basically issued an APB for him during a news conference.

The message was clear. Jones needs the reps after a year off. And he gets it.

"My legs basically had to catch up," Jones said. "I don't want to keep harping  on it. But you sit out and come back and try to put back-to-back-to-back days on it, my hamstrings had to climb aboard. They're doing it now. I knew they were going to come along. But nothing surprised me after what I've been through.

"Having those three days (of practice) and then sitting out, I'm just rebuilding their strength. That's what I'm doing right now. Every morning I'm up here doing hamstring strengthening exercises. That's really helping because that's something that was lost when I was out. My mind and body are going so super-fast. I'm getting back into it now."

Jones says he has no problem with what Lewis said. He wasn't even aware of it until the media told him. Same thing on Wednesday when he was asked about Monday's release of the depth chart that had Sanu the No. 2 receiver.

Cincinnati Bengals host joint practice with New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium Practice Fields 08/12/2015

He didn't know he wasn't starting until a reporter told him.

"That doesn't really do anything to me,' Jones said. "I've probably never been the No. 2 (in the preseason) the years I've been here. I just do what I do with the opportunities I get.

"He's been the No. 2. I just have to do what I have to do and make the plays I make and as a receiving crew just help this team."

How much Jones helps his team is reflected in how Bengals cornerback Adam Jones views him. Before Wednesday's practice, he said Giants Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. reminded him of Marvin Jones and he's not sure who is faster. It is that speed opposite Green that makes Jones the X factor.

"He's tired of standing on the sidelines watching his teammates compete," Jackson said. "He's back out there. We want him out there when he's healthy and can play and contribute and so we can keep him out there and I think that's what we're doing."

It looks like that day is finally here. That would be 586 days since the Wild Card Game against San Diego. On Wednesday he left the field with grass stains on his shoulder and a cleat mark on his side.

"I didn't see the safety coming," said Jones with a smile of that football feel. "I ran and fell and I got cleated. It was good. It feels good."

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