Jackson, Jones Receive On-The-Job Training In Debut

A lot of players probably get jitters in the opening game of the season, but not all of them have to face the pressure of being a rookie and a starter, however. Yet that’s exactly the position RB Brandon Jackson and WR James Jones found themselves in on Sunday. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Eagles Game Center


A lot of players probably get jitters in the opening game of the season, but not all of them have to face the pressure of being a rookie and a starter, however.

Yet that's exactly what running back Brandon Jackson and wide receiver James Jones did when they found themselves on the field with the starting offensive unit on Sunday.

Though neither posted great numbers (Jones caught four balls for 29 yards, and Jackson ran 15 times for 40 yards), both contributed to a Packers win, which served as the top priority for both young men.

"I got out there, did a good job, but I could have done better," Jackson explained. "But just getting that win under our belt, just having that one game experience, I feel good about myself and I feel like that I can get better there."

Jackson was the first rookie to start in the Packers backfield since John Brockington did it in 1971, and he and fullback Korey Hall made Green Bay the first NFL team to open the regular season with two rookie starters in the backfield since 1996.

The pair found it a tough go running up against a stout and aggressive Philadelphia front. However, Jackson, the Packers second round pick out of Nebraska, saved his best for last when he rushed for 7 yards on his final carry, which helped set up Mason Crosby's game-winning kick.

Jackson, who sat out the last preseason game against Tennessee due to a concussion, admits he may not have been able to make that play earlier in the game.

"The second half, everything slowed down for me," he said. "I just wanted to go out and play fast in the first half. Some things went well, some things went badly. But you just have to keep your head up. The most important play is the next play so I tried to put all of that behind me and focus on the next play."

Jones got the start with Greg Jennings sidelined, and though he didn't get as many touches as Jackson did, he said his comfort level also increased as the game went along. Now, it's just a matter of the offense getting untracked.

"I'm still a rookie, but I definitely feel a lot more comfortable (now)," said Jones, a third-round pick out of San Jose State. "I got a chance to play in the preseason and have the first regular-season game under my belt. So I definitely feel a lot more comfortable.

"But we do need to have more improvement. This is just the first one. To get where we want to go, we've got to stack 'em. We definitely got to clean up a lot of things."

Perhaps what's more impressive than Jones' and Jackson's production on the field is their maturity off of it. And as their aforementioned statements indicate, both know that they can get better and must do so in order to help their team win.

Neither of them offered any excuses for some of their bad plays just as neither was content with the things they did well either.

"There's always ways you can get better," Jackson said. "I'm never satisfied."

Jones echoed those sentiments.

"Talking to the veterans, they say the first one is the hardest," he said. "We got the first one, now it's time to prepare for the next one. We have to play a whole lot better."

If anything, maybe the two rookies are putting too much on their shoulders. After all, they helped the team win Sunday and undoubtedly are going to be part of any future success as well. That is a role, Jackson in particular, seems to relish.

"You just have to go out there and play," he said. "When I was out there, I felt like it was on me. Even though it's a team game, I want to put that pressure on me so I can get ready for these other games and build up confidence. I felt like it was on my shoulders to get the ball down the field."

Head Coach Mike McCarthy and his staff certainly believe in their rookie pair, and the two have also formed a bond throughout the offseason, which has helped with the adjustment to the rigors and pressures of the NFL.

"Me and Brandon are very close," said Jones, who roomed with the running back in training camp. "We talk about a lot of things, especially football. I'm very proud of him. He does a lot of great things. We just have to keep it up. We're rookies and it's a long season. We have to take it game by game and play hard."

So far so good for the rookie duo.

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