When the Bengals named Marvin Lewis as their head coach in January of 2003, it caught the ear of a 12-year-old kid in California named Marvin Lewis Jones.
“I was really small and I was watching TV and they said, ‘Marvin Lewis,’ and I was like, ‘What?’ said the Bengals wide receiver. “That was the first time that I heard his name. It’s kind of ironic now. I get ‘Marvin Lewis Jones’ a lot now that I’m with Cincinnati, so I’m never going to hear the end of it.”
The rookie out of Cal is off to a solid start in his first NFL camp. Jones led the Bengals in receiving yards in Friday night’s win over the Jets, finishing with two catches for 48 yards.
“It was definitely a thrill,” said Jones. “When you go through rookie minicamp and OTAs, you just want to go out there and cut loose on the big stage. It was definitely a good start to have two catches in my first game – it doesn’t get much better than that.”
“I thought Marvin went out and played in that game kind of how he’s practiced,” said Coach Lewis. “We know that he has great physical tools out there. He plays fast and he’s been able to exhibit that on the field.”
When the Bengals drafted Jones in the fifth round this year, NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock called it a steal since he had Marvin graded as a third round pick. Rob Rang from CBSSports.com, wrote that Jones could pay “surprising dividends.”
“At least partially due to poor play at the quarterback position, Jones didn’t generate a great deal of buzz a year ago in the Pac-12,” wrote Rang. “Given an opportunity at the Senior Bowl, however, Jones was spectacular, demonstrating the straight-line speed, balance and quick feet as a route-runner, body control to contort to poorly thrown passes, and soft hands to develop into a legitimate NFL starting receiver.”
“It was a little bit frustrating,” said Jones when asked about the draft. “I expected to go higher than I did, but once I got the call that all changed. It’s not how you get here, it’s all about the opportunity that you have and trying to capitalize on it. That’s how I took it – I’m here and I’m trying to make the best of my opportunity.”
The battle for wide receiver spots on the Bengals 53-man roster is one of the most heated at training camp. Jones is trying to avoid playing the numbers game.
“When you get up here, you’re just thankful for the opportunity to be in the NFL,” Marvin told me. “You just control what you can control – that’s going out on the field and doing what they expect you to do. That’s making game-changing catches and making big gains to help out your team. Once you do that, everything will fall into place and that’s what I’m trying to do now.”
In other words, he’s trying to catch the eye of the coach whose name caught his ear.
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