Packers James Jones works to stop the drops : Packers Insider

Packers James Jones works to stop the drops

August 4, 2011 by  
Filed under News

~By Jason Wilde

~James Jones’ eyesight is fine, and so is his concentration. When the Green Bay Packers wide receiver looks back on the four would-be touchdowns that he dropped last season, he chalks it up to being “one of those years.”

But that doesn’t mean Jones, who returned to the team when he signed a three-year deal earlier this week, didn’t do something about it during the lockout.

James Jones may not have dropped the most Rodgers passes last year, but he dropped the most big plays, and he expects to cut that down in 2011.

“As I go back and I watch the film on the balls that I drop, most of them were the same routes, same catch – over the shoulder catch. I spent most of the offseason working on that over the shoulder catch,” Jones said Wednesday, in his first locker room media availability since re-signing. “It wasn’t a lack of concentration. I know how to catch; everybody sees that I know how to catch. Just, drops. I don’t make excuses for myself, I just dropped it. If he threw it to me again today, I’d catch it.

“Last year was just one of those years where I let a couple go, and this year I plan not to do that.”

Jones can recite from memory the four drops that stand out most: A potential 72-yard touchdown from Aaron Rodgers in the Packers’ 9-0 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 31; a possible 29-yard touchdown in the Packers’ 45-17 victory over the New York Giants on Dec. 26; a likely 63-yard touchdown in the Packers’ 21-16 NFC Wild Card victory at Philadelphia; and a potential 75-yard touchdown in the Packers’ victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.

Statistically, Jones was not the team’s worst offender when it came to dropping passes. According to STATS, he dropped six of the 87 passes targeted for him during the regular season, while veteran Donald Driver dropped seven of 84 thrown his way. Jordy Nelson, who had nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, also dropped three passes in that game.

But Jones’ drops were considerably more memorable, especially as they piled up. And Jones said he understands folks’ frustration.

“Definitely. I’m harder on myself than anybody, any media. My friends are even harder on me than you guys,” Jones said. “I can’t blame it on concentration, I can’t blame it on anything, because I’d say I do have the best hands in this group. I let a couple go that I shouldn’t let go, and this year, I worked all offseason on that particular catch and I plan on letting none go this year.”

While home in San Jose, Calif., Jones caught passes every day, working out with anyone who’d throw to him, from the San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks (including former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith) on campus at San Jose State, to driving to Fresno to work out with his college wide receivers coach who now works at Fresno State (Keith Smith), to his college quarterback (Adam Tafralis), who has played in the CFL and UFL.

“Any way I (could) get me some balls thrown to me, I tried to do that,” Jones said. “If they were 5-yard catches, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about my drops because I only dropped a handful of balls last year. But, since they were so big, everybody knows about them. And I know about them too. I haven’t lost any confidence in myself. But you can’t do that, and I can’t do that. But I ain’t lost my confidence in myself. I know how to catch. A-Rod throws it again, I guarantee you it’s going to get caught.”

The irony of those drops is that they are probably the reason the Packers were able to re-sign him. After early interest from the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets, Jones saw the market dry up on him after an initial frenzy of receiver signings. At 27, Jones is just entering his prime. In 65 career games and 18 starts (including playoffs), Jones has caught 166 passes for 2,305 yards and 16 touchdowns. Last season was his most productive, with 50 catches for 679 yards and five touchdowns in 16 regular-season games and 11 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ four postseason games, including Super Bowl XLV.

He went into free agency hoping to get a shot at being a team’s No. 1 receiver, but that never happened.

“That definitely ran through my mind. It did. I cannot lie to you,” Jones said. “As a competitor, you want to be a No. 1 guy, you want to be a starter. And going into free agency, that was definitely my plan. It still is my plan, being here. But at the same time, I wanted to pick the best situation for myself. And me and my wife felt like that was here, whether it may not be this year, but it could be down the road. It felt like that was here. Great quarterback, great organization, I felt like this was the right place.”

While his three-year deal will give him another bite at the free-agency apple, he will also have a chance to prove worthy of a starting role this season. With Driver, 36, in the twilight of his career, Jones could see his role in the offense expand significantly if Driver, whose six-year streak of 1,000-yard seasons ended last year, declines.

“I wasn’t out there chasing the money. I was looking for the best situation for myself,” Jones said. “I’m glad I landed back here. I truly believe it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

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