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Marvin Jones sprints back into Bengals' WR rotation

CINCINNATI -- Marvin Jones, sitting on a stool in front of his corner of the Cincinnati Bengals' locker room, was in the middle of a conversation with a reporter Tuesday afternoon when a team trainer tiptoed toward him.

"You're back," the trainer said, interrupting the interview with a big grin plastered on his face as he reached in for a handshake.

As he chuckled softly, Jones nodded. "Yep, I'm back," he said.

Officially, Jones made his 2015 practice debut last Wednesday, on a day when the Bengals' organized team activities were closed to media. Unofficially, he jumped back in the Bengals' wide receiver rotation Tuesday when he had his share of big catches during only the second open practice of the spring.

"So far, all these practices have been great," Jones said. "It's great for me getting out there rolling around and doing all the old things that I used to do."

As he fielded his share of passes from quarterbacks Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron, Jones showed glimpses of what those who follow the team daily haven't seen in a year and a half. He was diving for errant passes, scooping up low ones before they hit the turf and flashing some of the sub-4.5 40-yard speed that makes him a deep threat.

He looked like he was back.

"He's Marvin Jones. He's what he was when he left," offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. "He can run, he can catch, he's explosive, sudden, quick, fast. He's all those things. I'm glad he's healthy."

Although Jones has practiced since last Wednesday, he didn't participate in the Bengals' previous open OTA session last Tuesday due to a hamstring injury he tweaked the week before.

These practices are the first Jones has been part of since last October, when an ankle injury forced him onto the injured reserve. It was the second ankle issue he had after overcoming a preexisting injury in the middle of training camp. When he initially was cleared from the pre-training camp ankle injury, he ended up breaking the foot on his opposite leg while trying to overcompensate for the bum ankle during a preseason scrimmage. It took him going on the IR to get his foot and ankles fixed.

They certainly looked OK when he sprinted past cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on a go route for an over-the-shoulder catch during one of Tuesday's 11-on-11 drills.

"When I first came out here before we started [OTAs] I felt the burst. The burst was there, but my body wasn't quite ready for it," Jones said. "But now since OTAs started, since the practice started, I've really been feeling it. And this being the second week of it, I'm really feeling it just because my body's getting into that zone. It's like nothing ever happened."

But something did happen. For parts of the last eight months, Jones has been rehabbing.

First, after surgery to his ankle, he couldn't stand or walk without crutches for a time. So before some practices last November, Jones would have an equipment manager grab a chair and place it outside the Bengals' locker room several feet from a Juggs machine. To maintain his hands, Jones would sit in the chair and have assistants feed balls for him to catch from the high-velocity machine.

Later rehab included bungee-cord training on West Coast beaches near his hometown of Fontana, California.

"I wouldn't say it's a relief to be back because it's been so long and I've worked out the past four or five months," Jones said, "but to be where I was to now is just great."