TJ Jones' injury leaves 'Swiss Army knife' void for Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
TJ Jones recorded a career-high 30 receptions for 399 yards this season.

Allen Park — TJ Jones isn’t a star. He’s not even a starter. But the Detroit Lions wide receiver was a prime example of a player who made a clear effort to get better this offseason and was maximizing the opportunities he had.

His season came to an end this week after suffering a shoulder injury covering a punt in the fourth quarter of the Lions’ win over the Chicago Bears.

“He was a Swiss Army knife for us, man,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He did a bunch of stuff for us on offense — played inside, played outside, caught some balls underneath, stretched the field, too. I know he’s valuable on special teams. He was stepping in as a returner if anybody needed a breather or whatever it was.”

Jones had his biggest impact early in the season, when rookie Kenny Golladay was hurt, but the young veteran continued to produce despite a significantly reduced workload. He even caught his first touchdown of the season against the Bears.

More: Pro Bowl snub, selection process irk Lions’ Quin

More: Lions’ Wagner back at practice; Lang, Swanson still out

Jones finishes his year with a career-high 30 catches for 399 yards.

The Lions will look to a pair of former practice squad receivers — Bradley Marquez and Andy Jones — to pick up the slack.

Andy Jones (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) is a former small school standout who spent his rookie year on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. He was promoted by the Lions on Tuesday.

“Andy’s performed well, and he’s studied and worked at it,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s deserving of the opportunity he’s going to get, so we’ll kind of see what happens. He’s been performing well. (We) like what he has to offer. Like his size, like the way he’s demonstrated his hands in practice sessions, those kinds of things. He can run, so we’ll see what happens.”