James Jones: Breaking Down Green Bay Receiver's Role with Greg Jennings out

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IOctober 7, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 30:  Wide receiver James Jones #89 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field on September 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

With Greg Jennings continuing to battle a groin injury, no receiver on the Green Bay Packers' roster is benefiting more than fifth-year man James Jones.

A part of a packed Green Bay passing offense, Jones is thriving in a bigger role with Jennings on the sidelines. 

Opportunities for Jones should continue for the foreseeable future.

Jennings will miss his second game of the 2012 season Sunday after his injured groin flared up during the first half of the Packers 28-27 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 4. He has been ruled out for Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts, giving Jones the start today.

Jones has mostly grasped the opportunity to have more snaps so far this season. 

According to the premium statistics section of Pro Football Focus, Jones has played the second-most snaps (227) of any receiver on Green Bay's roster this season. Only starter Jordy Nelson (253) has more. 

The Packers have also given Jones playing time on 78.1 percent of all offensive snaps in 2012, whereas he was at just 48 percent for the 2011 season. Jennings' injury certainly plays into that large increase. 

But Jones has also made it difficult to keep him off the field. 

In Week 1, and even with Jennings healthy, Jones caught four passes for a team-high 81 yards and a score. He was the only Packers' receiver who was consistently finding space against the 49ers' air-tight defense. 

Jennings then missed Week 2, but Jones failed to seize the new opportunity. He caught just two passes for -1 yards in the Packers win over the Chicago Bears

Now, Jones is starting to stack successes. 

After catching five passes for 55 yards (including four for first downs) against Seattle in Week 3, Jones caught five more passes for 56 yards and two scores in Green Bay's win over the Saints last Sunday.

Fantasy football owners will attest that Jones rarely puts two strong performances together in a row, so Weeks 3 and 4 were encouraging signs from a consistency standpoint. 

One could argue that Jones has been the team's best receiver so far in 2012. 

With Jennings out for at least this week and likely the next, expect Jones to continuing playing a starter's amount of snaps for Green Bay. He's earned the opportunity. 

The Packers passing offense won't miss a beat with Jennings out, just as long as Jones continues playing at a high level in his absence.