James Jones adds leadership to Raiders

The Raiders sought out some help in the passing game in the form of wide receiver James Jones, who they signed to a three-year deal in free agency.

Jones, who is entering his eighth season in the NFL, played all seven of his previous seasons with the Green Bay Packers while hauling in 310 receptions for 4,305 yards and 37 touchdowns. Jones had his two best seasons in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Jones started all 16 games and finished 64 receptions for 784 yards and a NFL-leading 14 touchdown receptions. Jones appeared in 14 games while battling a leg injury in 2013, but still finished with 59 receptions for 817 yards and three touchdowns.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound wide receiver attended nearby San Jose State before being drafted by the Packers in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Jones, who had his family with him at camp on Saturday, is enjoying being back in the Bay Area and closer to home.

“It feels real good – good weather, a good little breeze – out here in Napa and there’s not really too much better than this,” Jones said about having camp in Napa and being back in Northern California. “I’m enjoying myself. Things like this, my family and mom get to come out so it’s good and I’m having fun.”

But the good weather and proximity to home isn’t the only thing Jones likes about donning the Silver & Black. Jones likes what the Raiders did in the offseason and believes they can make noises in the league as long as the team works together.

“I’m liking what we have going on right now,” Jones said of this year’s Raiders. “We’ve got lot of guys of that believe in the process and believe in what we’re doing. Once we get everybody on the same page I think we’ll be tough to beat.”

The passing game can be one of the tougher aspects of the game to get going in training camp due to the necessary rhythm and connection between the quarterbacks and receivers. Despite training camp being young, Jones has already seen improvement in just a couple of days of camp and all of the offseason workouts.

“Today was better than yesterday. I think just communication-wise, we’re doing a lot better – whether it’s signaling; whether it’s talking in the huddle, talking at the line of scrimmage – everybody’s getting on the same page. A couple of mental errors today, but a lot better than yesterday.”

Jones dismissed any critique stating the Raiders don’t have a so-called number one receiver, saying all that matters at the end of the day is the team winning.

“Man, as long as we all go out there and make plays, I don’t care about number one, number two, number three… as long as we all go out there and make plays and help our team win, that’s all that matters,” Jones said.

The former Super Bowl winning wide receiver has had the experience of playing with two great quarterbacks in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, but is looking forward to working with Raiders starting quarterback Matt Schaub and gave him high praise.

“Matt looks great,” Jones said. “The good thing about Matt is he understands the game extremely well – he understands what defenses are trying to do to him; he understands what coverages are trying to be. He’s extremely smart, great arm, great feel for the game and I’m excited to work with him. A lot of great things he’s doing out here.”

The Raiders seemingly made it a priority this offseason to bring in veterans with a history of winning and leadership qualities. Head Coach Dennis Allen likes Jones’ leadership attributes, as well as his abilities at wide receiver.

“He’s a guy that’s been there and done that. He’s been there and done that and done it on a big stage,” Allen said. “He’s certainly a guy that brings some leadership ability to the room but he’s also a guy that has that veteran presence and a guy that can get open and make plays for us.”

Jones wants to help lead the team by example, something he learned from the veteran wide receivers while he was at Green Bay. “Since I came into the league, learning from Donald [Driver] and Greg [Jennings], it’s all about leading by example,” Jones said. “If the guys come up to me and ask me some questions, or if there’s something I think that needs to be said at the time, I’ll say it. But other than that, I just think a guy respects a guy a lot more that comes out here and grinds, works hard and does his job right first. Then, you can respect a guy like that and start asking some questions.”

But while Jones has no problem helping some of the younger wide receivers out, he still knows he doesn’t have all the answers as he is still continuing to learn himself.

“A lot of them ask me questions on the field and in the meeting room and I just try and give them the best advice I can,” Jones said. “I’m trying to get better too, so I don’t have all of the right answers but I try to help them along as much as I can.”

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