GREEN BAY, Wis. – Raiders receiver James Jones is not the nostalgic sort. The former Green Bay Packer won’t reminisce while driving to Lambeau Field for Friday night’s exhibition. He won’t wax poetic about streets he used to live on or cheese heads or the spots he used to Lambeau leap.
He’ll certainly say hello to friends on the other sideline, but he’s not playing to make the Packers regret not presenting a contract offer he couldn’t refuse.
Jones is on a broader mission.
“I'm trying to prove something everyday, not only to the coaching staff, but to the entire league,” Jones told CSN Bay Area earlier this week. “I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder, and I'm trying to prove it to the world to the league everyday that I can be a No. 1 receiver, that I can be one of those receivers that's talked about in the National Football League. It's bigger than the Raiders. It's bigger than (head coach Dennis Allen) and (coordinator) Greg Olson and all those guys. I've got something to prove about James Jones around the league.”
Jones branched out after seven seasons in Green Bay, where he was a cog, albeit a vital one, in an efficient offensive machine. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers spreads wealth among several key playmakers, but frequently found Jones in the red zone. He had 14 receiving touchdowns in 2012, a total the Raiders would love to see repeated this season.
The San Jose native came to Oakland to be a No. 1 option, which is why eyebrows raised when he was listed second on the team’s initial depth chart. Allen has said time and again that lineup was written in pencil, but it did catch Jones by surprise.
“I mean yeah, because I'm confident in my ability I feel like I'm one of the best receivers on the team,” Jones said. “If I was on any team I would feel like that, even if I was next to Calvin Johnson I would feel like I'm one of the best receivers on the team so you expect to start. … But we have a lot of talented dudes on this team, so the only thing you can do is go out there and make plays everyday and continue to build trust with the quarterbacks. When them lights come on that's when it matters the most.”
His time on the second string didn’t last long. He started last week’s exhibition against Detroit and will do so again in Green Bay, where starters should see significant snaps.
Jones has made strides this preseason in a new offensive scheme, and the coaching staff has noticed. They believe he’ll be a key contributor for an passing game still working out the kinks.
“He’s playing more within the system,” Olson said. “He’s doing fine. There’s not a lot that we really need to feel like we have to see from James Jones. He’s a veteran player. He knows what he needs to do to get ready for the regular season.”
Jones would like to build some positive momentum in his last extended bout of preseason game and believes the passing game will do so on Friday night.
“I want our offense to move the ball, and if I'm apart of that catching some passes then that would be good for me,” Jones said. “I just want us to go in there to execute and move the ball well against their defense to get into a good rhythm going into week 1 so we're confident when we play the Jets.
CSN Bay Area reporter Fallon Smith contributed to this report