Allen Park – The Arizona Cardinals treated Marvin Jones like the Detroit Lions’ top receiving threat and it will be interesting to see if the New York Giants deploy the same strategy Monday night.
In the first week of the NFL season, only a handful of teams had their best cornerback shadow an opposing receiver, but that’s exactly what the Cardinals did against Jones, having All-Pro defensive back Patrick Peterson follow him around the field.
The strategy worked well for the Cardinals. Jones was only targeted twice with Peterson in coverage, catching one pass, a six-yard touchdown. But it also worked well for the Lions, who spread the ball around and got four passing touchdowns from quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The Giants also deployed shadow coverage last week with Pro Bowler Janoris Jenkins traveling with Dallas Cowboys top target Dez Bryant. Again, the defensive back won the matchup, limiting Bryant to two catches for 46 yards on eight targets.
Will Jenkins be on the move again, following Jones? At this point, he might not even play. The Giants downgraded him to questionable Sunday afternoon with hand and ankle injuries. Jones is preparing for all scenarios.
“You expect anything when you’re prepping during the week,” Jones said. “The great ones adjust to whatever, so whatever these defenses throw at us, we have to adjust and still put together a great game like we did last week.”
Peterson and Jenkins play a different style on the outside. Peterson is as physical as they come, an excellent challenge for Jones, who struggled to beat press-man coverage last season. He may not have seen many targets in the game, but his coaches liked the way he competed.
“I will say that Marvin did a really nice job last week, it’s not going to show up on the stats sheet, but he fought and competed to get open,” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “He made a couple really nice plays, and there were some other ones where maybe we were looking the other way that he went and got open, so Marvin’s really doing a nice job.”
For Jones, it was a valuable opportunity to sharpen his skills against a player he views as the best cornerback in the NFL.
“When you start off your first game with the best corner in the league and getting all that work in, it’s great for the rest of the season,” Jones said. “Going forward, all the press work, all the releases – about 70 in that game – against the top corner, that’s going to bode well for me progressing forward.”
If Peterson is the best, Jenkins isn’t far behind. He defended a career-best 18 passes last season, his first with the Giants, including three interceptions.
“With Janoris, he’s very scrappy,” Jones said. “That’s what sticks out. He’s a great competitor and he’s not going to give up on any play. Even if you catch it, he’ll try to get it out. He’ll fight and claw every second.”
Jenkins also breaks well on the ball and likes to jump routes. Jones put a focus on coming back to the ball more aggressively this offseason, which should help him if the two are matched up Monday night.
In Week 15 last season, Jones was banged up when the Lions battled he Giants, catching three balls for 41 yards in the loss. All three receptions came in the second half, after Jenkins left the game in the second quarter due to his own injury.
Lions vs. Giants
When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
TV / radio: ESPN / WJR 760
Records: Lions 1-0, Giants 0-1
Line: Giants by 3