Rookie RB Aaron Jones Lights Way to Potent Packers Rushing Attack

Aaron Rodgers couldn't help but smirk when asked about Aaron Jones Sunday night.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback didn't hide how he felt about the El Paso native who made his first career NFL start against the Dallas Cowboys in his home state. Just last week, Jones entered the game against the Chicago Bears in relief of Ty Montgomery and fellow rookie Jamaal Williams -- both who entered the regular season ahead of Jones on the depth chart.

Rodgers' first words to Jones in the huddle? They were words the rookie will likely never forget.

"Hey, kid. I'm one of your biggest fans in this organization. I believe in you, so let's get it."

On his fourth career carry, he was in the end zone.

That tune didn't change for Jones on Sunday. He played a major part in helping the Packers establish a potent running game that consequently formed a lethal passing attack. Jones broke five tackles and racked up 54 yards after contact, according to Pro Football Focus.

It was his first career start, and he all but created controversy in the Packers' backfield: a great problem to have.

"He's great," Rodgers said of the pride of UTEP after the game. "I told him before the game, I have absolutely zero worries about him back there. He's a great kid. He's a rookie, but his vision was fantastic. He gives you a lot of confidence when you can give him the ball there on the last drive."

Jones became the first Packers rookie running back to rush for over 100 yards in his first career start since Samkon Gado did it in 2005 against the Atlanta Falcons. On Sunday against the Cowboys, he tallied 125 yards on 19 carries, averaging 6.6 yards per touch.

"Not only does he get through the line and make a nice run, but the kid runs out of bounds. I mean, that's stuff you can't coach, and you love the instincts there. He's a talented guy and I'm really proud of him."

Rodgers made it clear that the Packers aren't establishing themselves as a heavy-run team, something that is foreign to them under coach Mike McCarthy. As they continue to have players returning from injury, the identity of the Packers continues to shapeshift.

For Jones, his journey is just beginning whether the Packers turn to him in the future or not. He went from being a healthy scratch on the game day inactives list for week one to being widely considered as the starting running back a month later. While Montgomery continues to nurse his broken ribs, there's certainly no rush for him to get back to the field sooner than he has to.

These kinds of abilities Jones has shown off weren't a secret. He had over 2,000 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns in his final collegiate season with the Miners. Even after being drafted in the fifth-round (182nd overall) to Green Bay, he was the Packers' leading rusher in the preseason.

Still, the Packers rolled with Montgomery, Williams and seventh-round draft pick Devante Mays as the three running backs for week one.

Two touchdowns and 174 rushing yards into his young career, Jones gets the last laugh. Even more so after his 15-yard run out of the shotgun formation on the Packers' game-winning drive in Dallas. It was an unpredictable play call, and like Rodgers noted, he was smart enough to be fully aware of the game situation and get out of bounds.

"I've seen Aaron [Rodgers] do it on TV, so to actually be part of it is crazy," Jones said of that final drive. "He was just cool, calm and collected. He said, 'hey, we're going to go down here, drive the ball down the field, put the ball in the end zone and win the game,' and that's exactly what happened."

What's even more impressive about Jones' stellar performance is that he did it all behind a makeshift offensive line. 

The Packers got right tackle Bryan Bulaga back from his ankle injury, but left tackle David Bakhtiari was still sidelined with his wounded hamstring. As a result, left guard Lane Taylor would move a spot to the left in place of Bakhtiari and versatile offensive guard Justin McCray moved to left guard where Taylor would naturally be.

It was right guard Jahri Evans who was mostly responsible for Jones' touchdown run; one of two Packers offensive linemen to start at the same position on the offensive line in all five games this year (Corey Linsley).

"I knew they were going to get off to the backers and I knew I was going to have to make that cut right off of Jahri [Evans] once he got off to the backer, and it was just wide open," Jones said. "I think I got hit in the end zone, so really untouched -- it was a credit to the O-line."

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (25)

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Tundraboy's picture

October 09, 2017 at 10:03 am

Well I got my wish, so hoping that we see Mays as well might be asking too much of MM but.....

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 09, 2017 at 10:46 am

I don't need to see Jamal Williams running with his eyes closed anymore, that's for sure.

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TheVOR's picture

October 09, 2017 at 10:07 am

Said it right here last week, when everyone else was worrying about a RB and trades, I was saying GIVE #33 the football. Best instincts on the team, best pure running back on the team. Lets just hope GB doesn't do something stupid like drop him back to 3rd in the rotation again, when he's clearly the best pure running back on the roster.

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MarkLee22's picture

October 12, 2017 at 01:38 pm

And I said in the preseason that Jamaal Williams would be the go to guy by week 8 after Monty got hurt.... I was off by 3 weeks and got the running back wrong also. I better stick with my day job.

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LayingTheLawe's picture

October 09, 2017 at 10:12 am

At the start of this game the Packers offense was getting killed by pressure fro the Cowboys D line. Through a combination of quick, short passes and use of the running game they slowly broke down the Cowboys defense and opened up the game. Great play calling and execution.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 09, 2017 at 10:48 am

"Through a combination of quick, short passes and use of the running game they slowly broke down the Cowboys defense and opened up the game."

I so hope they keep doing this. I just worry as soon as the Bahk is back that they revert to stubborn mode like they have so many times before.

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lou's picture

October 09, 2017 at 10:46 am

When was the last time on 4th and 1 that a Packer running back ran 10 yards ? How many times including on the 1 yard line on 4th down have runs failed, how refreshing to see the 10 yard run. Also, don't forget the catch on 3rd down to keep the drive going. Stark's in his rookie season was a real key with the injuries in the Super Bowl season but Jones looks so much more natural as a runner than Stark's was. He provided the balance the offense needs especially with a make shift offensive line.

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fthisJack's picture

October 09, 2017 at 11:57 am

he runs with great vision..... and hits the hole with great speed and quickness and makes guys miss. something i have not seen since Ahman Green.

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Pauly's picture

October 09, 2017 at 12:50 pm

RB Jones looks great so far. I have thought all along that D. Mays has the same type of RB talent as A. Jones does with a lot bigger, more punishing body type to wear down defenses.
Like to see him get some touches and maybe have a 3 headed monster RB situation to count on when need to run out a clock.

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Pauly's picture

October 09, 2017 at 01:20 pm

MM has always talked about having a big Lacey type RB for the winter home games but there just aren't many of those RBs in the game. That's why the stubborn son of a gun stuck with Williams so long until he finally got hurt and MM had no choice other than A. Jones who shined.
I think the same stubbornness is what is keeping the Packer's speed burner WRs in 5th and 6th position. (the argument that AR doesn't trust # 5 and 6 means to me that MM hasn't put enough time/effort/emphasis on getting them up to speed with AR))
Thus the Pack has 3 talented route runners who make up one of the slowest starting 3 WRs groups in the division and without the frequent or occasional deep threat are much easier to man cover/smother which makes for so many necessary AR scrambles until the WRs can sneak open.
With a speed burner deep threat WR and a talented RB play option available AR would have a much easier and more effective offense than he does now.
Everybody talks about how special AR's scramble talent is but I don't think he should have to find scrambling so frequently necessary. You don't see Brady, Alex Smith, Ryan needing to try and scramble like AR has to.
Thank GOD AR can do it.
Hopefully TT will draft a 4.3 WR to move into # 2 or 3 after Jordy retires in a year or two and AR slows down.

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HankScorpio's picture

October 09, 2017 at 02:03 pm

" That's why the stubborn son of a gun stuck with Williams so long until he finally got hurt and MM had no choice other than A. Jones who shined."

Just so I am clear, are you talking about Jamaal Williams and his 9 carries and 2 catches prior to yesterday?

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Point-Packer's picture

October 09, 2017 at 01:22 pm

Remember all those blind homers who thought letting Eddie Lacy walk was a huge mistake? Kinda funny to think about now. Seattle overpaid, big time. Lacy and his agent are laughing all the way to the next Dicks Burger.

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Pauly's picture

October 09, 2017 at 02:06 pm

RB Williams was #2 starting RB behind Monty and # 1 starting RB last week until he went out of game and RB Jones came in for him and shined.

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Pauly's picture

October 09, 2017 at 02:16 pm

I agree with you on getting Davis involved as a deep threat WR should be a smart thing to do even if it's a fake deep route.
Janis, 6'2", 220lbs, actually ran a warm up 4.30 combine 40 and he can't crack the top 4 WRs. That's why he's such a great gunner. Big, strong, fast.
His run is on ( NFL combine on youtube)

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Pauly's picture

October 09, 2017 at 02:23 pm

I think Janis's last 2 touches were last year as 2 jet sweeps, both about 20 yrs with 1 touchdown. He just flys!

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dobber's picture

October 09, 2017 at 02:51 pm

He's at his best if you can get him the ball in stride. Just doesn't happen very often...

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Spock's picture

October 09, 2017 at 04:42 pm

Jonathan, "Cobb sort of disappeared for me against Dallas." Were you watching the same game? Seriously, Cobb's contributions were Huge in this game.

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cuervo's picture

October 09, 2017 at 03:38 pm

Janis will never be a top reciever.... but the fact is that whenever he's been given chances he has produced. If MM was smart, he'd have 1-3 plays per game that tried to get him the ball where he's the most comfortable.

On the running back note.....it's amazing to me that almost everyone could see in the limited running plays in the preseason and camp that Jones and Mays are much better runners than Williams. Somehow it takes 2 injuries to force MM hand to make the obvious decision. So much for playing your best players...it's all about draft status...otherwise Hawkins would be playing more.

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Ustabeayooper's picture

October 09, 2017 at 03:37 pm

The trouble with 4.3 receivers is that they usually have speed and little else. They are poor route runners and can't block your mother. Many also have suspect hands.Speed kills but usually your offense. Al Davis drafted speed and killed Oakland for years.Minnesota looked for speed drafting Troy Williamson in 2005 and passed on Rodgers twice. Be thankful for what we have at wide receiver.

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lou's picture

October 09, 2017 at 04:18 pm

Of the true track star receivers either drafted or moved from track to football, only Bob Hayes and Lance Alworth made the Hall of Fame. There have also been just a few that have made multiple Pro Bowls that are just speed WR's with the Bear's Willie Gault and the Raiders Cliff Branch as examples. It takes a unique talent with good or better speed to consistently take the top off of the field, Jerry Rice who was about 4.6 as an example. Thompson has missed on certain positions on both sides of the ball but not WR. Driver, Jennings, Nelson, Jones, and now Adams were terrific picks. My guess is he finds a #1 to complement Adams in next years draft. Adams is the perfect #2, so quick and athletic with decent speed. Opposite Alworth in San Diego they had Gary Garrison for almost a decade as the #2, he would catch 40-45 passes a year but for 10-12 scores, I see Adams doing that for a long time.

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pacman's picture

October 09, 2017 at 03:43 pm

I just wonder how the coaches rate these players and how he was last on the depth chart. We will have to see if A2 (Aaron #2) can keep this up or if this was a fluke. But it was a pleasure to see.

(OT - I find it amusing to hear how 'sure' everyone was that AR would score with 1 min+ left. If it was a sure thing, the Packers wouldn't have lost a game in the last 5 years).

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Spock's picture

October 09, 2017 at 04:48 pm

pacman, Glad you were amused. I'm an atheist but I was as sure as anything that Rodgers would pull that off. Don't know why, but for some reason I just KNEW AR would do it. Can't explain it; don't care, I guess I just had "faith", LOL.

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Johnblood27's picture

October 09, 2017 at 05:53 pm

31 likes and ZERO dislikes.

I have never seen such a love fest in here!

Aaron Jones makes everything betta!

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Qoojo's picture

October 09, 2017 at 06:00 pm

Jones is a lot of fun to watch. Even in the Chicago game, he had a pretty nice looking cut back run that would have gone for nothing if he just went where the play was suppose to go.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 10, 2017 at 02:38 am

I noticed that McCray started at LG over Lucas Patrick, who was active.

Andy: it might be too difficult to keep separate grades, but it might be useful to note a player's grade as a tackle vs. guard for Lane Taylor and McCray, and for Burnett and Jones as hybrids, star and SS. Maybe just a mention on how they handled each assignment in your weekly review would be wonderful.

[As someone who sometimes does 5 or even 10 hours of research to write a comment, and just loves it when someone suggests I need to do 10 more hours of research to nail down my point, I'll understand if my request is too much! I am grateful for the individual grades, which I don't think exists anywhere else on a free site.]

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