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Packers receivers have big numbers in mind

Jonesing for catches

The Green Bay Packers' James Jones catches the ball during training camp Friday in Green Bay, Wis.
The Green Bay Packers' James Jones catches the ball during training camp Friday in Green Bay, Wis.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – James Jones is sticking to his prediction.

He said the Green Bay Packers could have three 1,000-yard receivers in the same season for the first time, even without Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.

Jones led the NFL with a career-high 14 touchdown receptions, while also setting personal bests for catches (64) and receiving yards (784). Randall Cobb had 80 catches for 954 yards, both team highs, and eight touchdowns. And Jordy Nelson had 745 receiving yards and seven TD catches despite missing four games with a hamstring injury.

The "Big Three" have their sights on setting themselves apart as the most productive group of receivers in team history.

"I still believe it 100 percent. One hundred percent, man," Jones said Wednesday. "Three 1,000-yard receivers are coming. I still believe."

Jones isn't alone. Cobb said Aaron Rodgers' big-play trio of wideouts is aiming to put up unprecedented numbers in the season ahead.

"That's what we're working for as part of our group goals," Cobb said. "We understand our team goals are a lot greater, but inside of our group goals, that's the goal we set for our group."

Jennings left Green Bay after seven seasons to sign with NFC North rival Minnesota in free agency. Driver, a fan favorite who rarely contributed on the field last season, retired as the team's all-time leading receiver in February after playing 14 years for Green Bay.

"It's different because of the faces, but as far as playing ability, it's still here," tight end Jermichael Finley said. "The thing is, we've got so many weapons."

Finley is an imposing and athletic pass catcher in his own right, and can draw attention away from the receivers. He set a single-season team record for tight ends with 61 catches in 2012.

"We all take on the same mindset, still with Greg being gone, that we're trying to make the most of our chances," Jones said. "We still know that we have three explosive receivers and a tight end that can make some plays. Aaron does a great job of getting us all the ball, but we know that you ain't going to get 10 balls a game. Maybe that one game you do, but you've still got to make the most of your chances, and that's the mindset."

The shared focus for the receivers at the outset of camp also has been getting past the recent criticism leveled by Jennings at Rodgers for his leadership and accountability.

"I think anytime a guy leaves a team who's been there for so long and then starts coming out and saying certain things, it surprises everyone," Nelson said. "I think it's unfortunate and we're ready to move on."

After all, a big goal sits out there for the "Big Three" to chase.

"It's a good competition," Jones said. "We're just out there having fun. We're trying to get each other better. We understand that we're going to need all three of us to make plays. And we truly believe as we go, this team goes, that we're going to have to make plays out there for our team."

And by the way, Jones insists he doesn't feel left out after specialty hamburgers were unveiled on the menu at Curly's Pub in Lambeau Field until the start of the season. A percentage of the proceeds from the sales of the burgers will be donated to a charity chosen by one of five players or coach Mike McCarthy.

Cobb ("Corn on the Cobb Burger") and Nelson ("Jordy Nelson Burger") have menu selections named after them. Nothing for Jones, but it's no big deal.

"We've got a lot of guys on this team, they made some plays, man, so you can't have 13 burgers up there. It's all good," said Jones, who also prefers plain burgers to cheeseburgers. He quipped: "So that wouldn't go well with Wisconsin people, they wouldn't even want to eat my burger."

Teams with 3 1,000-yard receivers in same season

2008 Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald 1,434 yards, Anquan Boldin 1,038, Steve Breaston 1,003

2004 Indianapolis Colts: Reggie Wayne 1,210, Marvin Harrison 1,113, Brandon Stokley 1,077

1995 Atlanta Falcons: Eric Metcalf 1,189, Bert Emanuel 1,039, Terance Mathis 1,039

1989 Washington Redskins: Gary Clark 1,229, Art Monk 1,186, Ricky Sanders 1,138

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