Thursday, February 21, 2013
James Jones ready to be Packers' No. 1 WR
By Kevin Seifert
INDIANPOLIS -- So I'm about to step into a marathon availability session Thursday morning here at the NFL scouting combine. It will include Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz and Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
The process began at 10 a.m. ET and wraps up sometime around 1 p.m. I'll tweet out anything pressing during that time (@espn_nfcnblog) but might not make it back to the blog until afterward. For now, I'll leave you to chew on the confidence of Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones during an appearance this week on the NFL Network. (Video here.)
After catching an NFL-leading 14 touchdowns last season, and assuming the departure of free agent Greg Jennings, Jones said he is ready to be the Packers' No. 1 receiver.
"I am," Jones said. "I am. I feel like I'm ready to step into that role and take that position and be the No. 1 receiver. We have a lot of great receivers left still, with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. I'm just happy that if we do lose Greg, a lot of us will get a lot more opportunities to make plays and hopefully help us win games."
Last season, Cobb led the Packers with receptions (80) and receiving yards (954), but the definition of a No. 1 receiver isn't just the player with the best statistics. A true No. 1 receiver, for those teams that have one, is the player who can be counted on to make game-changing plays in critical times regardless of the defense's alignment.
A year ago, it was fair to question Jones' aptitude for such a role. He dropped 7.3 percent of passes thrown his way in 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Information, the 11th-highest percentage among 132 qualified receivers. That number was 7.4 percent in 2010, ranking him. No. 120 of 136 qualified receivers.
Last season, however, Jones cut those mistakes by more than half and finished with a drop percentage of 3.1 percent. That ranked him No. 38 among 134 receivers and was below the NFL average of 4.7 percent.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has always said he will manage the Packers' deep set of skill players by throwing to the open man. The Packers' No. 1 receiver in 2013 -- whether it is Jones, Cobb, Nelson or anyone else -- will be the player who gets open and routinely catches the ball at the most important times. It's that simple in Green Bay.