GREEN BAY, Wis. – James Jones is sticking with his prediction.
During the offseason, the veteran wide receiver predicted the Green Bay Packers would have three 1,000-yard receivers this year. After just two games, he still wanted to make it clear that his prediction looks pretty darn good as the Packers prepare for Sunday's game at Cincinnati.
"You all thought I was lying? I was dead serious," Jones said of he, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb all being on pace to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season. "I knew if all three of us could stay healthy and the quarterback we've got throwing the ball, you know, three 1,000-yard receivers can happen."
Cobb leads the Packers in receiving with 16 catches for 236 yards and two touchdowns, while Nelson has 10 receptions for 196 yards and three TDs. Jones set career highs against Washington last week, catching 11 passes for 178 yards after no receptions in the opener.
Tight end Jermichael Finley has 11 receptions for 121 yards and two TDs, too.
"I'm only going to stick with three right now, and if J-Mike ends up beating one of us out for 1,000 yards, I still told y'all we'd have three (with) 1,000 yards," Jones said with a laugh.
Only five teams in NFL history have had three 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. The last to do it was Arizona in 2008 with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.
Of the Packers' candidates, only Nelson, with 1,263 yards receiving in 2011, has reached the 1,000-mark before. Cobb, now in his third season, had 954 yards last year but missed the regular-season finale at Minnesota with an ankle injury. Jones had a career-high 784 yards last year.
The three receivers and Finley have all but 82 of quarterback Aaron Rodgers' league-leading 813 yards passing — a function of a shift in coach Mike McCarthy's offensive philosophy.
Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are gone, and McCarthy is no longer using so many personnel groupings. Instead, he has adopted an up-tempo, no-huddle scheme where substitutions are kept to a minimum.
According to NFL statistics, of the Packers 128 offensive plays through two games, Cobb, Nelson and Jones have been on the field together for 109.
"As a receiver, you get into the flow of the game," Nelson replied when asked what he likes about the three receivers all playing together. "When we had all the depth here with Greg and Drive, you'd go in for one possession, out one possession, in one. So, you never got in the rhythm. ... We stay on our side of the ball so you're constantly going against the same guy. We like it and it allows Aaron to have a lot of freedom to make sure that we're in a good play every time and allows us more opportunities to make plays."
And, rack up more yards.
"That's a high bar, that's a pretty high bar there," Rodgers said of three 1,000-yard receivers. "(But) I think it's possible. We have some great weapons, we've been throwing it around a lot the first two games. It just depends on how teams are going to play us. Obviously we've got to complement our passing game with our running game — we had a 100-yard rusher (last week), which was exciting for everybody — and we need to have that balance."
NOTES: Rookie RB Eddie Lacy didn't take a snap in practice all week and is listed as questionable on the team's injury report. However, McCarthy hasn't given up hope that he could play Sunday. McCarthy acknowledged that it's not ideal for Lacy to play without practicing but with fullback John Kuhn (hamstring, doubtful) unlikely to play, the Packers would be down to only two healthy running backs — James Starks and Johnathan Franklin — if Lacy couldn't go. ... S Morgan Burnett (hamstring) has been ruled out but McCarthy said his condition has not worsened. ... Tramon Williams' had a groin injury crop up Friday but McCarthy wasn't worried about him playing.