Tough Upbringing Doesn't Stop WR Jones

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Back in 1999, the Packers drafted a receiver in the seventh round who had experienced a difficult upbringing, living for a time as a teenager out of a U-Haul truck when his family hit some hard times.

That was Donald Driver, whose success story will certainly be an inspiration to his new receiving mate.

The Packers drafted wide receiver James Jones with the first of their two third-round selections on Saturday, the 78th pick overall, and the San Jose State product had his share of tough times as a California youngster as well.

"Growing up was never really easy for me and my family," Jones said. "When I was young, me and my mother lived in homeless shelters, moved from homeless shelter to homeless shelter.

"Some days you didn't eat, some days you did. I just kept working hard, and with faith in God I'm to this point now, and I'm so excited right now just to be a Green Bay Packer. It's an exciting moment for me and my family."

The Packers are just as excited to have Jones, who was a steady contributor in college before blossoming as a senior, when he had 70 catches for 893 yards (12.8 avg.) and 10 touchdowns, earning team MVP and second-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors.

"He was very productive," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "We thought he was real good after the catch. He has excellent hands, a strong guy. We thought overall he was a very good player."

At 6-0 1/2 and 207 pounds with a 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash, Jones is considered a receiver who plays bigger and faster than the measurables. General Manager Ted Thompson said he sees Jones helping the offense as a rookie despite coming from a smaller school and having only one year as a full-time starter in college. He was also known to take a reverse handoff on occasion as well as return punts, using his strong hands to secure the ball.

"He's almost 6-1, but he plays even bigger than that," Thompson said. "When he goes up for the ball, defenders seem to just fall apart. He makes catches inside, he runs slants, he runs the ball well."

Because he plays such a physical style, Jones feels his biggest adjustment to pro football will be mental, learning what he needs to in the film room and classroom to be a productive player early in his career.

"To me the pro game and the college game is the same, it's just the pro game is a lot faster," he said. "To me it's about understanding the game, understanding the defenses you're going against, the coverages you're going against. I'm always going to play hard, play fast and play physical, and hopefully that gets me a long way."

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