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#1 Posted : Saturday, November 15, 2008 1:45:42 AM(UTC)
[size=18]Young star has fought back from season of false starts[/size]

[img_r]http://cmsimg.greenbaypressgazette.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=U0&Date=20081114&Category=PKR01&ArtNo=811150439&Ref=AR&Profile=1058&MaxW=318&Border=0[/img_r]This might be James Jones' week to start working his way back toward the No. 3 receiving job.

The third-round draft pick from last year lost the first half of the season because of a sprained knee in training camp. The injury sidelined him for five regular-season games and presented physical and mental hurdles that hindered his play in the other four games.

But with his improvement on the practice field this week, Jones has a shot at not only being active for the second straight game, but also at getting more than the 12 snaps he had last week against the Minnesota Vikings.

"I think we'll roll him in there a little bit more than we have recently," said Jimmy Robinson, the Packers' receivers coach. "But it's just a case of feeling he's back to where he was physically. I think there's a difference between being healthy enough to practice, and practicing at the top of your game. There's obviously degrees of how well you practice, and I think he's practicing pretty well now."

The Packers are hoping a healthier Jones will become another ascending player in their strong receiver rotation for the season's home stretch.

Last year, he was one of the better rookie receivers in the NFL and upgraded the Packers' No. 3 receiver position with 47 receptions for a 14.4-yard average.

He looked better early in training camp this year before a sprained posterior collateral ligament in the Packers' third preseason game at Denver sidelined him for two weeks.

Since, his season has been a series of false starts. He aggravated the injury when he landed on his knee in Week 3, missed a game, then re-aggravated it the following week against Atlanta. The Packers rested him for two weeks plus the bye, and then coach Mike McCarthy surprisingly made him a healthy scratch for the Packers' game at Tennessee two weeks ago.

Second-round pick Jordy Nelson's development allowed the Packers to sit Jones without feeling too thin at receiver, and they say they weren't sending Jones a signal. But it was the first time in Jones' career he's had a significant injury, and the limitations dropped him on the depth chart.

"I don't know about (sending Jones a signal), some of those guys when James was down stepped up and did some good things," said Joe Philbin, the Packers' offensive coordinator. "That's part of it. I don't think there's necessarily any games going on about where we put him. We feel good about that group of (receivers). There's not a huge separation between a lot of those guys."

There's no question the injury hindered Jones' performance when he played he has six catches in his four games and hasn't been as reliable catching as last season. But he says his knee has recovered to where he's not thinking about taking hits on, or landing on, his knee, which could improve his concentration on catches.

"I felt like James," Jones said of practice this week. "I didn't feel like James with a knee I felt like James."

Robinson said: "The struggles he had once he came back, he probably wasn't completely well and kept landing on his knee and having setbacks. I think that affected his ability to have success. That was something in the back of his mind. He may not tell you that, but that's kind of how I see it. I don't think he was ever feeling completely healthy but he was trying to go."

Jones' injury gave Nelson the chance to play more, and he has become the Packers' No. 3 receiver.

Though he hasn't performed to the level Jones did as a rookie, he's played well enough to move ahead of Ruvell Martin and earn regular playing time the rest of the season.

Nelson ranks fifth on the team in receptions (20) and is averaging 11.4 yards a catch, with a long reception of 29 yards. He's on pace for 36 receptions, which is solid for a rookie.

Nelson is a big target (6-foot-3), but his most impressive quality is his ability to learn all the receiver positions in his rookie season, much like Greg Jennings did in 2006. Nelson played mostly in the slot in three-receiver sets in college at Kansas State, so that's where the Packers play him most, but they can move him to any of four positions.

"There aren't huge numbers yet, but I like what (Nelson) is doing, I like the way he runs routes," Philbin said. "I think he has pretty good awareness on the football field, solid technician. He's made a nice contribution so far."

Still, Jones could give the Packers' 11th-ranked passing game a lift for the stretch run if he can return to his form of early training camp. At 6-1 and 218 pounds, he's the team's strongest receiver and is at his best in traffic and over the middle, where he can best use his strength and ability to pluck the ball with his hands.

Last week, he played primarily when the Packers went to a five-receiver set, but if he's active this week, as expected, he probably will get some snaps in more three-and four-receiver groupings.

"I think you'll see (the No. 3 receiver) become a shared-type thing," Robinson said. "I don't know this for a fact, because if we've got somebody that's playing extremely well, they've earned the right to be in there a lot, which I think Jordy has done. At the same time, James was playing extremely well and had an outstanding camp going when he got hurt."
#2 Posted : Saturday, November 15, 2008 9:12:28 AM(UTC)
I'm glad he'll be back to help us out. But the thoughts of his miscues last year play vividly in my mind. HANG ON TO THE DAMN BALL JAMES!
#3 Posted : Saturday, November 15, 2008 10:25:34 AM(UTC)
I think he will be VERY aware of the drops, and he will NOT do that again.......hopefully.
#4 Posted : Saturday, November 15, 2008 2:25:38 PM(UTC)
he was beastly before he went down. A healthy Jones is better than a healthy Nelson, IMO.

this can only make us stronger.
#5 Posted : Saturday, November 15, 2008 2:49:13 PM(UTC)
" said: Go to Quoted Post
he was beastly before he went down. A healthy Jones is better than a healthy Nelson, IMO.

this can only make us stronger.


I read somehwere that the coackes said that he is the best out of ALL our receivers coming off the linbe of scrimmage for the first five yards. We will need this if the Bears plan on blitzing a lot. Plus I want to see him get his helmet knocked off and score a touchdown again :thumbleft:
Greg C.  
#6 Posted : Sunday, November 16, 2008 8:23:06 AM(UTC)
Thanks for the link. I'm glad to hear some explanation for why he's been so slow to come back. He could give the offense a real boost.

I'm not sure about all these "drops" people are referring to. The two fumbles against the Bears last year were both great plays by Charles Tillman, one of them immediately after Jones caught the ball. I think McCarthy made a big mistake by taking Jones out of the game after that, because it limited the offense. Luckily, McCarthy didn't make that same mistake with Ryan Grant after his two early fumbles against the Seahawks in that playoff game.
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