New Chargers wide receiver James Jones has something to prove.
He waited around for an opportunity. He waited too long -- in his opinion, and in the opinion of others around the league. But nevertheless, the opportunity is here now, and he's going to capitalize on it.
"I'm here to show what I still got," Jones said after his first practice with the Chargers Wednesday.
Jones, who is entering his 10th season in the league, spent eight of his nine seasons with Green Bay and one year with the Raiders (2014) before entering free agency this past offseason. Last year, the 32-year-old had his best season yet, racking up a career-high 890 yards and eight touchdowns with the Packers.
After the season ended, he waited. And waited.
"Coming into free agency, I really didn't think I would have to wait this long," Jones said. "Especially after the year I had. Really, if you compare my stats to a lot of the free agents that got big money, I'm right around there. But they always put the age in there and you can't ever fight age.
"To be honest, I was just excited someone was willing to give me a chance. You put a good product on the field and on film for people to watch, but you never really know what they're thinking."
Jones caught his first passes from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers Wednesday, and will work to build trust with Rivers while learning the playbook as quickly as possible.
"It was good," Jones said of his first practice with the team. "I'm getting my legs under me. You can work out as hard as you want, but it ain't nothing like coming out here and being in football shape. It was a good first day.
"The biggest thing is just catching up with the playbook so I can play faster, so I don't have to worry about none of that. But, it's coming to me pretty good … I'm blessed in my career that I'm able to play with a couple Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and Philip is another one. I'm excited to get our chemistry going, build some trust, and hopefully he can build some trust in me and we can get out there and make some plays. "
Versatility, along with experience, should help Jones acclimate to a new team. The 6-1, 208-pound San Jose native has played virtually everywhere on the field, including in and out of the slot, and got to know all parts of the field during practice Wednesday.
"Coach moved me around everywhere today," Jones said. "They're seeing what I can do, seeing what I can handle. Over my career I played everywhere, so I'm used to it. I'm comfortable [on] the inside, the outside. For me it's just about getting down the playbook, so I don’t really need to think and I can just play fast."
He also has a relationship with cornerback Casey Hayward, a former Green Bay teammate.
"That's my guy," Jones said. "We hung out a lot in Green Bay."
Known for always wearing a hoodie, Jones was without one today -- he says he's retired the look and won't need it in San Diego -- but was not without a suitcase, which he had packed before trying out for the team Tuesday.
"My agent called me and said, 'You're going to go work out for the Chargers' and I packed like I was coming to stay," he said. "I had confidence that I would be here, and confidence that they would like what they see. I put together some pretty good years on the field, so they kind of knew what I could do, so -- yeah, I packed like I wasn't leaving. I'm glad I was right."
Jones' motivation comes from growing up homeless -- he spent his first 15 years of life on the streets of San Jose -- and from his two children, who love to watch their dad play football.
"I had a very humble upbringing, so every time I come out here, I just got a smile on my face," Jones said. "No matter how the day may look, I've seen worse. I'm excited about the opportunity. My two little boys, they love football, so I'm excited to keep playing so they can see Daddy out there running around and catching footballs."
This time, they'll watch him in a blue and gold uniform.