Running Back Spots Will Come Down to Pass Protection

The backup running back job is all but in the bag for the young group rounding out the depth chart behind Ty Montgomery. Even Montgomery has been challenged throughout camp.

While he's focused on his pass protection and adding another vital skill to his repertoire, rookies such as Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones have also been making their fair share of noise. 

In today's practice that was moved inside the Don Hutson Center due to inclement weather, Williams impressed mightily with his blitz pickups and was reportedly receiving carries with the first-team offense. If there's a favorite for one of the raw tailbacks to step in on third downs for the sake of pass protection, Williams would be it.

Meanwhile, where Williams didn't find his niche, Jones did, showing his own second-level burst after breaking through the offensive line for a long run. That came a play after linebacker Derrick Matthews administered a crushing hit on the Packers' fifth-round running back.

Where the jobs will start and end for the trio of Williams, Jones and Devante Mays, is where this group is in terms of their pass-blocking ability come the regular season. It may even make-or-break their status on making the 53-man roster.

When it comes to protecting Aaron Rodgers, the urgency to "get it right" lingers.

"They've been doing a really good job," said Rodgers before the Packers' first night practice of this year's training camp. "The pass protection shows up and that's a tough job for the running backs. Obviously, they have to be solid runners of the football and have good reads and good patience with their footwork. But, the passing game and the routes is a whole other animal. They've done a good job."

The Packers don't currently have a running back that can play all three downs. If how he finished last season and how he's bulked up over the last few months is any indicator, Montgomery is likely to give it a shot. However, the narrative is that Montgomery will double his 77 rushing attempts from 2016.

With the diversity in Green Bay's backfield, it's tough to dispute that. The likelihood that the Packers will want to get each of their gifted running backs involved is substantial. What Aaron Nagler of noted was that each rookie running back brought his own skill set with every carry and did something positive. He also acknowledged the intriguing talent the Packers have lined up there

Being able to run the ball is a good quality to have, but that's only the beginning.

"They've all shown good explosion and good pad level," Rodgers said. "The stuff out of the backfield has been really nice, they've caught the ball well and done a good job in the pass protection. These next couple installs are really interesting ones. They're part-review and part-gameplan installs where we're picking and choosing stuff we've done from the last couple of years we really like against certain teams. It really tests the aptitude of these guys and their study habits.

"Overall, I've been really impressed with the group. It's a group that's come in, they've kept their mouths shut and they've gone about their work in a very professional way."


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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Since'61's picture

August 04, 2017 at 08:13 am

Zach - nice job on the update on the rookie RBs. Good to read that they are all doing well. Hopefully they all stay healthy and their TC work translates into an effective season for all of them. Thanks, Since '61

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