Over the past year-and-a-half, James Jones has learned the Raiders’ and Giants’ playbooks.
Not to worry. His seven years with the Green Bay Packers remain fresh in his mind.
“99 percent of it is the same,” Jones said of the Packers’ playbook on Monday, his first day back with the team.
In reality, the percentage is much lower than 99 percent. Coach Mike McCarthy, however, said Jones will have no problem digesting those changes in the small doses provided by the weekly game plan.
“There will be new concepts; there are every year,” McCarthy said. “There will be variations of concepts that existed when he was here. It’s an evolution that you keep building on each year. I don’t think he will have any major learning curve or anything like that. He’ll pretty much focus on the game plans, getting ready for the game plans. We don’t really have the time to go back and go through all the installs and things like that from the timing of it. He’ll just focus on the concepts that are in for this week.”
Upon his return, Jones said he got “a lot of love” from those who played alongside him during his first stint with the team. No doubt, some of that love came from Aaron Rodgers. The two-time MVP quarterback doesn’t exactly have a lot of tolerance for mental mistakes, but those kind of errors were bound to happen occasionally with a young wide receiver corps in which Davante Adams — at the ripe old age of 22 — seems like a veteran compared to rookie Ty Montgomery (22) and second-year pro Jeff Janis (24).
Rodgers knows that the easiest way to lose games is through self-inflicted wounds. Rodgers and Jones built plenty of trust during Rodgers’ first six seasons in the starting lineup. The hope is that chemistry can be rekindled quickly.
“We’ve got to go out there on the practice field and talk to each other, a lot of communicating and see if we can get on the same page,” Jones said. “But I’ve only been gone a year so hopefully it don’t take that long.”
With Oakland last season, Jones caught a career-high 73 passes while dropping only four. While his 9.1-yard average ranked 80th out of the 81 wide receivers who caught at least 33 passes, Jones ranked 22nd in that group with a catch rate of 67.6 percent, according to Pro Football Focus. He also remains a solid open-field threat. While he ranked near the bottom of the league with 2.9 yards after the catch per catch, according to PFF, he finished tied for 26th by forcing nine missed tackles. Yards after the catch was one of Jones’ top assets with the Packers. In 2013, PFF had him ranked ninth with 6.3 YAC per reception.
With Rodgers rather than Derek Carr at quarterback and with a strong supporting cast, it’s hard to imagine Jones can’t once again be a solid contributor for the Green Bay offense.
“It feels like I’ve been gone for 10 years and I’ve only been gone for a year,” Jones said. “It’s good to be back. It does feel long, but I’m only a year removed. This is still kind of home for me, so it’s good to be back.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.