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Jones believes he's ready to be No. 1 receiver

Feb. 19, 2013
 
Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones lunges into the end zone for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field on Dec. 23, 2012.
Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones lunges into the end zone for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field on Dec. 23, 2012. / File/Getty Images

Even in the midst of his breakthrough 2012 campaign, James Jones never really was regarded as a top-flight wide receiver.

With Greg Jennings bound for free agency and Donald Driver retired, however, the veteran wide receiver feels he’s ready to take on a greater role in the Green Bay Packers’ offense.

During a Tuesday morning appearance on the NFL Network’s “NFL AM,” the 28-year-old Jones expressed his desire to be considered a No. 1 wide receiver for the Packers after establishing career highs in receptions (65), receiving yards (784) and touchdown receptions (14), which led the NFL.

It’s a much different scenario than the bear market he met for his services after the team’s Super Bowl run in 2010 when he finally agreed to a three-year deal with the Packers that runs through next season after finding little interest in free agency.

“I’m ready,” Jones said on Tuesday morning. “I work hard every year. I’m ready to take in that role if we don’t get Greg (Jennings) back. Hopefully, I can continue to have some success, make some plays and help my team win.”

A native of San Jose, Calif., who played at San Jose State, Jones recalled his last-minute invitation to the NFL scouting combine in 2007 before the Packers selected him in the third round. Three years later as a free agent, Jones reached out to his hometown San Francisco 49ers during free agency in 2010, but they showed little interest in obtaining his services en route to his return to Green Bay.

When he finally arrived in Green Bay, he caught his first touchdown pass from soon-to-be Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. Like many, Jones feels is on the verge of a reconciliation with the franchise he played 16 seasons for before an ugly falling out in 2008.

“I’d love to see them get that all worked out and I think that will happen in due time,” Jones said. “I think both sides are taking their time, but I think it will eventually happen and it’ll be good for the Green bay packers and organization.”

“Brett is probably waiting for them to reach out. There’s a certain time limit they’re taking on it and how to come at Brett Favre on that certain situation since they left on bad terms. Once they get that all figure out and start talking, I think it will all sort itself out.”

Additionally, Jones spoke highly of recently released defensive back Charles Woodson, who he still believes has a few seasons left in his 36-year-old body after revitalizing his career in seven seasons with the Packers before being axed last week to clear approximately $10 million in salary cap space.

During a season in which the Packers’ offense sometimes struggled to find consistency, Jones championed the performance of 30-year-old running back Cedric Benson as the team’s ball-cow running back and a player he’d like to see back in the lineup next season.

Benson, who was signed on Aug. 12, played the first five games of the year before being lost for the season after undergoing foot surgery.

Interestingly, when asked to piece together the team’s best backfield combination with Benson for next year, Jones suggested pairing midseason acquisition, DuJuan Harris, over the team’s two in-house draft selections, Alex Green and James Starks.

“I’m a believer in Cedric,” Jones said. “I think Ced is the every-down back we need. I think later on the season before he got hurt, the couple of games before he got hurt he started to run the ball well.

“DuJuan Harris, the young guy we got who came on in the playoffs, I think him and Cedric will be a great one-two punch to help get our running game going.”

You can see more of Jones’ interview here as the Packers’ wide receiver, who'll be entering his seventh NFL season in 2013, also discussed his own combine memories and what the Packers need to do to stay atop the NFC North next season.

whodkiew@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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