On day Lions add more WR depth, Andy Jones shines
Allen Park — On a day the biggest news coming out of Detroit Lions minicamp was the signing of wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, another player at the position was one of the brightest spots on the practice field.
An under-the-radar contributor late last season, Andy Jones is making sure no one forgets he belongs in the mix for a roster spot.
It can be easy to forget Jones. He was the third guy with his last name on the receiver depth chart last season. He further drifted into obscurity when he missed last offseason with an undisclosed injury. But when his number was called in the second half of the year, he delivered in a number of ways beyond catching passes, including special teams and run blocking.
During Thursday's practice, Jones was the only player with his surname playing receiver and his route running and hands proved worthy of praise. He hauled in a pair of touchdowns during red zone work and a couple deep balls during team segments later in the session.
"I think he got some opportunities in games for us late last year and he stepped up and made some really good plays," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "He puts a ton of work in, obviously.
"He's a hard worker who has made some big plays and made some big ones today out here on the practice field, hit him for some really big plays. I'm happy for him."
There's a good chance the Lions keep five receivers going into the season, but the depth chart got more crowded with Thursday's addition of Kearse, who figures to be the front-runner for the first guy off the bench behind the starting trio of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola.
With 13 receivers on the roster at this stage of the offseason, Andy Jones has plenty of competition. His ability to make an impact on special teams remains as good a way as any to set himself apart from that group, while flashing good hands, especially near the goal line, won't hurt his cause.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Jones is entering his fourth season after going undrafted out of Jacksonville University in 2016. He appeared in eight games for the Lions last season, starting three. He caught 11 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Most of the damage came in the season finale against Green Bay, when he hauled in six balls for 50 yards.