A diamond in the rough

Jones continues to silence draft-day doubters by making plays

When the Green Bay Packers selected James Jones in the third round of the 2007 NFL draft, a lot of Packer fans were puzzled. The first question was WHO? Then people looked at the fact that Jones was selected two or three rounds ahead of schedule based on some of the draft guru information. Then there was the perception that Jones didn't have world class speed.

People didn't realize that Jones was a bonafide playmaker at San Jose State. Also forgotten was the physical strengths that Jones possesses. Brett Favre has compared Jones physically to Sterling Sharpe. And then there are the hands. Jones has outstanding hands catching the football. Either way Jones didn't give much credence to the fans' opinions.

"I talked to my dad a lot, and I really didn't get in to all the media," Jones said the other day after practice. "I really didn't get into what all the media and fans said and what type of player that they think you are. You just have to keep going out there and make plays. And I'm not going out there to prove the fans wrong, but I just keep playing my game. I'm just going out there to help my team win, and I hope they (the fans) are on my side then."

Jones has had an excellent preseason so far catching 16 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but Jones knows he still has to keep improving.

"The main thing right now is just limiting my mistakes," Jones said. "I'm just trying to understand the game a lot better, that's the main thing I'm working on. The more I understand defenses and things like that, the more effective I'll be on the field. So I'm doing a lot of film study to help understand what the defenses are trying to do."

Jones knows that to be a complete receiver, all phases of his game have to be above average. That means blocking for the running game as well.

"Definitely, the coaches want me to be physical in the run blocking. You can't just catch balls to be a great receiver in this league. It's definitely one thing I will keep working at to improve on and I think it will improve as the season wears on."

Jones will start this week along with second year receiver Greg Jennings as Donald Driver will sit out with a foot sprain. Jones might find that starting will soon become a habit. The Packers were poor in 2006 in the red zone and in converting third downs. A physical receiver like Jones, who has great hands, should help improve both of those areas.

When the Packers didn't acquire Randy Moss on draft day, most Packers fans thought the Packer receiver corp would be limited. But with Driver, Jennings and Jones, plus Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holiday, the threats are there. And there also is the chance that Koren Robinson will return in late September. Ted Thompson has to be smiling. At least a little bit.

Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at greenbaybob@hotmail.com.


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