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Primetime Lights Don't Faze Rookie RB Aaron Jones

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Primetime Lights Don't Faze Rookie RB Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones isn't a last resort for the Green Bay Packers and their virtually nonexistent rushing attack, and by the looks of how well he ran at UTEP, the El Paso native could potentially be just the complement they need to starting running back Ty Montgomery.

Rather than a last resort, Jones may very well be the next-best option. Even over teammate Jamaal Williams, the presumed No. 2 running back the Packers drafted in the fourth round in April. Jones, a fifth-rounder, has brought much more to the table than his counterpart up to this point. 

He entered last Thursday night's win over the Chicago Bears in relief of Montgomery and Williams, who suffered broken ribs and a knee sprain respectively. En route to 49 yards on 13 touches behind a makeshift offensive line that was missing both starting tackles in David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, he seemed to impress on every hand-off.

Jones even found a way into the end zone, becoming the first Packers rookie running back to score a touchdown in his first career game since Eddie Lacy in 2013.

"I pretty much knew it was a touchdown right here," Jones told Eric O'Brien of CBS4 Local. "A-Rod told me, 'get in the end zone.'"

Jones, who rushed for over 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns in his final collegiate season with the Miners, now shares a locker room with quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- someone widely considered to be the most talented to ever play his position. The concept of having that motivating voice behind you could do wonders for a rookie, especially one who could line up behind Rodgers exclusively in the future.

"When I first ran in the huddle, he was like, 'Hey, kid, I'm one of your biggest fans in this organization. I believe in you, so let's get it.' I mean, that does a lot for your confidence."

It was essentially a mistake-free night for Jones in terms of carrying the football. In his lone performance, he had already shown he can fearlessly locate running lanes against a starting NFL defense, even with a 5-9, 208-pound build. 

He did make one mistake, however, and that came right after his first career score. Jones tossed the ball -- that is now sitting on a mantle in his home -- to the referee, rather than keeping it for a memento. Fortunately, he was able to get it back.

"I flicked the ball to the ref, I forgot," Jones said. "I was just in the moment. I asked our ballboy if he can get it for me, and they ended up giving it to me in the locker room.

"I won't do that again."

As of Friday, the Packers' final injury report before their trip to Dallas to face the Cowboys on Sunday listed Montgomery as "doubtful," all but sparking speculation on who the Packers will enter the game with starting at running back.

Williams was initially expected to miss at least a game with his knee sprain, but he practiced all week and was one of two players on the injury report to be fully cleared for the game. The other nine names listed were either "questionable" or, in inside linebacker Joe Thomas' case, "out."

There's a high possibility that Jones will be receiving a healthy dosage of carries if Williams does get the start and vice versa, which is also likely due to him still being listed as the Packers' backup running back.

Jones is a perfect example of a tailback who can set the edge and bounce runs effectively to the outside. Once both of the starting offensive tackles are in the mix, that may very well entice Jones to make a habit out of outside runs in which he can stretch the defense sideline-to-sideline. 

While Montgomery has been one of the NFL's top all-purpose running backs and played an important role in an offense heavily influenced by pass-catching and creating mismatches, Jones is the quick jolt of fast-paced running that could be useful for the Packers in increments.

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Rossonero's picture

I like Jamaal Williams, but I like Aaron Jones more for his vision and pass catching ability.

Coming into the draft, a few reports I read said that he reminded scouts a little bit of Frank Gore.

Jones, 5'9" 210 lbs., is built similar to Gore (5'9" 217 lbs.). While Gore is more of a power runner, he still has decent hands, too.

What intrigues me the most is Jones has a knack for breaking off big runs -- he broke off a 40+ yd run in 8 games in 2016. Of the 35 games he played in over four years, he produced runs of at least 20 yards in 22 of the 35 games.

The Packers were high on him for good reason:

“If you see Aaron’s tape, he’s really fast,” Packers director of personnel Eliot Wolf said after the draft.

“I think he ran 4.51, but that was a little surprising. We thought he played faster than that. He was a guy who could consistently beat the angle of the safety. He had a lot of long runs for UTEP.”

GBPDAN1's picture

Looking forward to watching Jones tomorrow. Williams doesn't seem like anything special at this point, but , of course, that could change with time.

I read that Adams and Daniels will play tomorrow! Huge! I'm glad House is back! Now if we could get at least one of the 2 starting O-tackles back ......victory! I truly dislike the Cowpies! Go Pack!!

The TKstinator's picture

He's got talent.
Now he's got opportunity.

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