ATLANTA — Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones was a bit player on offense the first five games of the season, and truth be told, he did not like it one bit.
"No sugarcoating it, it’s been frustrating because the type of player that I am and I know I could help the team in any way," Jones said. "And historically, you go throughout my whole career, you give me chances and I’m going to make it happen."
On Sunday, Jones made things happen for the first time this season as the Lions beat the Atlanta Falcons, 23-22, in a comeback for the ages.
He caught five passes for 80 yards, both season-highs, and had his longest catch of the year, a 23-yarder that helped set up the Lions' first touchdown.
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After back-to-back games in which he had less than 10 yards receiving, Jones played an increased role in an offense that amassed a season-high 340 yards through the air. His six targets were his most since Weeks 1 and 2, when the Lions played without top receiver Kenny Golladay.
"When we get out there and we start rolling, myself, K.G., Dola (Danny Amendola) — all of us. When we start rolling, we’re hard to beat," Jones said. "We’ve seen that damn near the whole season last year and we just need to keep that rolling, cause when we keep rolling like this we’re hard to stop."
Jones has navigated cold spells at various times during his five seasons in Detroit. In 2016, he had nearly half of his 930 yards receiving in the first four games of the season, and he missed time each of the last two years because of injuries.
But his shrinking share of targets felt different this season.
At 30 years old, in the final year of his contract and with the Lions languishing below .500 until Sunday, Jones has been the subject of recent trade speculation. Last week, Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Jones' frustration was palpable and praised him for doing dirty-work jobs like blocking in the run game.
"I think anytime that you’re a player of his caliber, you feel like, 'If I get the ball, I’m going to help the team,'" Bevell said. "That’s definitely a mentality that I want all our guys to have, that they want the ball, and Marvin’s no different."
Jones said it "most definitely" felt good to play a more prominent role Sunday, but his big day might not necessarily portend to future success.
Golladay will remain the Lions' No. 1 receiver so long as he stays healthy, tight end T.J. Hockenson has emerged as Stafford's preferred second option, and the Lions want to continue expanding rookie running back D'Andre Swift's role.
"I’m going to just take care of my opportunities," Jones said. "I can’t just be that guy that’s going to yell and all that stuff. I’m not like that. I just won’t say nothing, keep everything in house. But I want to be that guy that takes care of the responsibility, and I think in our room that’s how we are. So that’s all it is to that. It was frustrating, but at the same time, we’ve got a lot of season left and I know once those opportunities come then I’m going to capitalize on them, so it’s not a problem at all."
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Marvin Jones delivers after 'frustrating' start to 2020