Marvin Jones was on the sideline at Ford Field in 2013 when he looked at his teammates in astonishment. Yes, he was in the building when Calvin Johnson caught a touchdown pass between three Cincinnati Bengals, one of the signature plays of Johnson’s career.
He said Thursday he and his teammates couldn’t even be mad because, well, that’s just what Calvin Johnson did during his nine years in the NFL.
It also helped him realize the situation he is walking into.
He has confidence in himself, but he understands who he is and the role he’s going to be expected to play. In other words, he might be replacing Calvin Johnson, but he knows he’s not replacing Calvin Johnson.
“That’s the thing everybody should know,” Jones said. “I’m not coming here trying to replace Calvin Johnson. You’re not going to replace Calvin Johnson. He’s definitely one of a kind and you probably won’t see anybody like him.
“But [what] I will replace that he left is his integrity on and off the field, just the way he carried himself and his character overall. That’s something that I will bring that I admire about him.
“I’m here to be me. I’m here to do what I can do to help this team win and to succeed. That’s all I can do.”
Jones was asked on a teleconference with reporters if he had a nickname. He quickly stopped that talk, instead saying, “Just call me Marv Jones.”
That type of attitude will be critical for a player who will be called on to replace at least part of Johnson’s production. That’s critical for Jones and the Lions as they enter the post-Calvin Johnson era. Jones is a good receiver who can run deep routes and handle short and intermediate ones as well. His hands always have been good and he’s been productive when he’s been on the field.
He’s never had a 1,000-yard season, but he was also the clear No. 2 in Cincinnati behind A.J. Green. Now? He doesn’t believe in a primary or secondary receiver. That’s probably a good thing considering he’ll be sharing duties with Golden Tate.
“I’m just a guy that’s coming in and trying to just make plays to help this team,” Jones said. “I don’t really look into the No. 1, No. 2 receivers. We have a lot of talent here and we’ll all step up to the plate and make our plays.
“That’s not something I’m worried about, being a No. 1, being a No. 2. I’m just worried about being on this field and producing and giving it my best shot.”
Jones said the Lions were “a team that was circled in my book for a while” as one he potentially would like to go to when free agency opened. He even praised Johnson after his retirement Tuesday. Less than 24 hours later, he was signed to take his spot on the roster.
Jones spoke with team owner Martha Ford on Thursday and was impressed by her excitement to have him with the Lions. He also spoke with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who Jones said was excited to play with him.
One of the first things they’ll have to do when the team convenes in April will be to start to develop a rapport. That was something automatic between Stafford and Johnson and something Stafford has developed with Tate and Theo Riddick.
Now, they’ll have to find that chemistry together for the Lions to be successful offensively in 2016.
“The way he throws the ball, it’s excellent,” Jones said. “I’ve seen the film on him and he definitely sticks out. Definitely somebody I’m glad to be playing with.”