INDIANAPOLIS – Marvin Jones is expected to be a full participant in the Detroit Lions’ offseason program after undergoing knee surgery that ended his 2018 season.
Jones suffered a right knee injury in a Week 10 loss to the Chicago Bears and was placed on injured reserve 15 days later.
He said after the season he was disappointed with how his year ended, but declined to provide details on an injury that initially was reported to be a bone bruise.
“I’ll just be ready next season and I’ll be ready to be one of the best,” Jones said in December. “Every time you talk to me, that’s what I say. I want to be the best for this team and I want to be the best in the league, and that’s not going to stop. I just have to come back and do it.”
Jones, who’s entering Year 4 of a five-year free-agent deal he signed with the Lions in 2016, finished last season with 35 catches for 508 yards and five touchdowns.
Lions coach Matt Patricia on Wednesday said Jones and Kenny Golladay are “two outstanding wide receivers that will obviously be counted on moving forward,” but he was vague when asked if he expected Jones to return to his pre-injury form once healthy.
Jones averaged 18 yards per catch and had a career-high 1,101 yards receiving in 2017. Golladay took over as the Lions’ No. 1 receiver and finished with 70 catches and 1,063 yards last season.
“We’ll obviously see what the entire team looks like next year when we get out there,” Patricia said. “Everyone’s in a situation where they got to go out there and reestablish (themselves). I think the NFL, what’s great about it is every year’s a new year and every position is new and the guys are out there working real hard, but I know that Marvin is working extremely hard right now to get back and be ready to go and that’s all that we can ask for him to do and then he’ll go out and just continue to push forward. So we’re just real excited about that and those two guys are two great guys to work with.”
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah, meanwhile, continues to rehab in California from surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum that he suffered in a December loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Ansah was expected to miss four to six months with an injury that could impact the offers he receives as an unrestricted free agent.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn has left open the possibility of re-signing Ansah, though he admitted this week the team is “still in the evaluation process” when it comes to Ansah’s injury.
“That’s probably more of a medical conversation than anything else right now,” Quinn said. “I don’t really have those answers.”
ALLEN PARK — The Detroit Lions’ secondary is undergoing a facelift. Yet the new guys will need no introductions.
Tracy Walker is expected to replace Glover Quin in the starting lineup at safety. He joined the club as a third-round pick just last year, but goes way back with cornerback Darius Slay. They’re cousins who both attended Brunswick High, a school tucked away in the far southeastern corner of Georgia along the Atlantic coast.
Now Detroit has added another starter to the mix: Justin Coleman, who happens to hail from the very same school.
That’s right. Three-fifths of Detroit’s starting secondary are alumni of Brunswick High.
“I got a couple years with Darius (in high school), and it was great playing with him,” Coleman said. “We never knew that we were both going to get to this point, but in high school he was one of the best players on the field and he kind of just motivated me to get on the field. He kind of helped me along the way, just being a leader that he is, and I tried to just compete with him.”
Slay was an all-state defensive back, as you might expect, but he actually preferred running back in those days. He rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior in 2008, and intercepted six passes with two touchdown returns on defense.
“I took this pitch one time out of the backfield and reversed it, like, 10 times and took it like 80 yards,” Slay told MLive. “I put it on Instagram one time, but I deleted it because I had so many pictures.
“They pitched it to me, and one dude caught me. He was hatin’ and spinned me around, so I just went in a circle. I was only a freshman, about 140 (pounds), so I was like, ‘Can’t let no one hit me.’ So I just started running that way, and then everyone pretty much was getting tired. I wasn’t getting tired, so I just kept going back and forth until I saw the opening. It was crazy, man. Crowd went crazy. I remember it like it was yesterday.”
But Coleman’s best story about Slay actually occurred in track and field. They were both outstanding sprinters, and were favorites to win the 4 x 100 meter relay. But it was cold that day, and Slay — not exactly a big fan of cold weather, as it turns out — was reluctant to run.
“He basically was the fastest guy out there,” Coleman said of Slay. “But it was too cold, and we needed him to run for us in the 4 x 100. And he just didn’t want to run. We were like, ‘Go out there and warm up, you’ll get warm enough to run.’
“He did that, and he ended up winning the race.”
Slay went on to junior college, then Mississippi State before landing in Detroit as a second-round pick in 2013. He’s since turned himself into an All-Pro and appeared in the last two Pro Bowls.
But the Jamal Agnew injury last season revealed Detroit’s depth issues around him. So Detroit is ripping up the secondary and putting it back together. Quin and Nevin Lawson are both out, and Coleman has been added to the mix. It remains unclear whether he’ll start in the slot, where he played 90 percent of his snaps in Seattle, or on the outside, where he split his time while in New England. But at $9 million annually, you can bet he’ll be in the starting lineup someplace alongside Slay.
Danny Amendola has admired the Detroit Lions from a distance considering the team is coached by Matt Patricia and is also led by Matthew Stafford. That last fact has Amendola downright excited to get going on the next chapter of his career in the Motor City. Speaking in a conference call after his signing was made official, Amendola confirmed Stafford was one of the reasons he was most ready to join the team.
In a piece recapping the signing by Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com, Amendola talks about what drew him to Detroit, and it was the ability to help out the team’s solid offense and be a part of the action with another Texas guy. Here’s what he said:
“Amendola said he can’t wait to get started learning Darrell Bevell’s new system in Detroit and to start working with quarterback Matthew Stafford and fellow receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. Amendola and Stafford both grew up in Texas together, so Amendola joked that he was happy to be joining forces with another “Texas kid.”
“He has every throw in the book,” Amendola said of Stafford. “He can do a lot of great things, so I’m excited to get started with him and working with him.”
As for Patricia, Amendola said in the same call within Twentyman’s piece that familiarity from his time in New England leads him to comfort with his new boss:
“Obviously, he’s a defensive-minded coach, he was the defensive coordinator in New England when I was there, worked together for five years, and just a guy who is relatable. A guy that’s demanding. He’s instilled a lot of mental toughness in the guys that play for him and those are the things that stood out the most.
“He was never really my coach, so to speak, because he was always on the defensive side of the ball, but I was always around him all the time and I just love the enthusiasm he brings to work. The attitude he comes into the building with every day. I’m excited to continue my career with him.”
The Lions made the big move to upgrade their offense with a stable veteran player in Amendola. The team signed him nearly as soon as the NFL’s legal tampering period opened, getting the veteran wideout to agree to a reported one year contract worth $5.75 million dollars. Amendola comes to Detroit after having a successful career with the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and of course the former St. Louis Rams, where he cut his teeth in the league after being given his first shot to do so.
Amendola has long been one of the more steady veteran options on the market since his release from the Dolphins, which was more about money than Amendola’s production with the team. In Detroit, he can be expected to figure in for the Lions in terms of filling in the slot job that was vacated by the trade of Golden Tate last year. With Tate and others expected to make big money on the free agency market, Amendola is a nice cheap option for the Lions to help move the chains and add some veteran leadership to the room. His addition probably still won’t preclude the Lions from adding a wideout in the NFL Draft this year to bring along.
Patriots fans actually longed for Amendola early in the 2018 regular season when Julian Edelman was suspended. Brandin Cooks was traded after Amendola left and just about every other receiver on the team suffered some sort of injury between July and the start of the year. Had the Patriots known what was going to become of their receiving corps, they probably would have forked over the $4 million per year that Amendola got out of the Dolphins. To this end, he could be a good value for Detroit.
In 2018, that looked like money well spent for Miami, even in spite of his release from the team. Amendola started the season hot with 11 catches on an 84.6 percent catch rate. He didn’t stretch the field in Miami, but he was exactly what the Dolphins needed him to be in an offense that already had home run hitters like Kenyan Drake and Kenny Stills. He catches the football and moves the chains. He was a security blanket for Ryan Tannehill just as he once was for Tom Brady. And he can be that for Matthew Stafford, as well, who will appreciate his veteran savvy along with his home run hitters in Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Amendola will also bring a winning influence to that room given his two Super Bowl titles.
Detroit will be looking forward to seeing what type of magic Amendola can cook up with Stafford, and already the fit sounds like a good one.