What the Packers don't know is which Jones will show up. Will it be the one who caught four passes for 107 yards in the Packers' most recent Sunday night game, a win over Minnesota? Or the one who failed to catch a pass against Miami on Oct. 17 or against the New York Jets last Sunday, when he also dropped what likely would have been a 72-yard touchdown late in the third quarter of a 9-0 victory?
McCarthy said the fourth-year receiver is not unlike the team's struggling offense as a whole: good at times, not so good at others.
"I think James Jones is no different than some of the other players. They have had some really good games, and they have had some games that they wish they could have done a little better job," McCarthy said. "James is a talented young man. He is playing different positions. We are asking more of him now than we have in past years, and I'm confident that he'll step up big against Dallas."
After catching at least one pass in a team-record 139 consecutive games (including playoffs), Driver went back-to-back games, against Minnesota and New York, without a reception. He left Sunday's game against the Jets in the second quarter when he aggravated the quadriceps strain he initially hurt several weeks ago.
"Just playing the last two weeks has made it worse. But I think he'll be ready once we come off the bye," McCarthy said. "That's what we're shooting for. It's something that he has been dealing with the past month, and it is best to shut him down.
"When Donald Driver misses practice, that's a concern, because he hasn't missed practice. And now that he is going to miss games, that obviously tells you the significance of his injury. Talking to Donald, he thinks he'll be ready to go for Minnesota (on Nov. 21), so that's what we're shooting for."
In the meantime, Jones will have another opportunity to prove himself. He had his fourth career 100-yard game and was the team's leading receiver against the Vikings, turning a short completion into a 45-yard gain to set up the Packers' first touchdown and catching a 32-yard completion to kick-start their second scoring drive.
But he's also struggled at times and made crucial mistakes this season. At Chicago on Sept. 27, Jones lost a fumble with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left in a 17-17 game, setting up the Bears' game-winning field goal.
"Let me just say this: I have a ton of confidence in James and his abilities," Rodgers said Wednesday. "He's a guy I think we need to keep around. We need to find a way to get him the ball more often. He's as talented and as good as any receiver we've got when the ball's in the air, using his body. Obviously, I know he'd like to come up with a couple more plays here and there, but I have absolutely no reservations throwing him the ball."
Jones said that he'd like more opportunities, but he also said that he must do a better job of capitalizing on them if he expects to get more chances.
"Definitely, I want to be more consistent. But more consistent also means more opportunities. If I can keep showing what I can do, then that'll help me be more consistent," said Jones, who enters Sunday night's game sixth on the team in receptions (19) and fourth in receiving yards (284).
"If I come out and have four catches for 107 yards, like I did against Minnesota, and then come out the next game and have one ball thrown my way, then it looks like, 'Shoot, he was good, then he was bad.' But it's not necessarily all me. Have I dropped a couple balls? Sure. I'm not going to say I've been playing flawless football. But it comes with opportunities, to be able to show what I can do.
"(The drop against the Jets) was all me. All me. Nobody else. I've got to make that play. That's a must-make catch, man. When you get a chance, you have to take full advantage of it."
Notes: With a roster spot open after the release of DE Mike Montgomery, McCarthy said the team won't decide on whether to activate CB Al Harris, S Atari Bigby or RB James Starks from the physically unable-to-perform list until Saturday. ... McCarthy said rookie first-round pick Bryan Bulaga will be "the right tackle this week" and "it's his job to keep it" over veteran Mark Tauscher, who has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury after starting the first four games. ... Punter Tim Masthay was the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Week.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press