GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones was arrested in early October and faces several charges after a traffic stop in which he admitted to smoking marijuana.
Jones, 22, has pleaded not guilty to counts of speeding, driving without a valid license and operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in his system, according to Wisconsin court records. The district attorney’s office for Brown County filed charges on Oct. 2, several days before Jones made his first start against the Dallas Cowboys.
The arrest and subsequent charges previously had been unreported.
Coach Mike McCarthy said he was aware of the situation regarding Jones when asked about it during his Monday news conference.
“I spoke to Aaron after the incident,” McCarthy said. “It’s been a while since, I don’t recall the date. He made a mistake, and I know it’s a pending legal situation. But yes, I am aware of it.”
Jones was pulled over for speeding on State 172 in Ashwaubenon at 11:37 a.m. on Oct. 1, according to an incident report obtained by the Journal Sentinel. A state trooper clocked Jones’ vehicle traveling 79 mph in a 55-mph zone.
The report states the trooper smelled marijuana emanating from the vehicle and observed Jones’ eyes to be red and bloodshot. Jones told the trooper he had woken up three hours earlier and smoked marijuana after eating breakfast. A search of the vehicle did not produce any narcotics or paraphernalia.
A second trooper arrived on the scene, and Jones was asked to participate in a standardized field sobriety test along the side of the highway. The report states Jones was assessed one “clue” for using his arms to balance during a walking test but had no issue standing on one leg or tracking an object with his eyes.
Jones was taken to St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay for a blood test. He was released from custody at 1:33 p.m. after Donatello Brown, a cornerback for the Packers, signed the responsibility agreement to care for an individual who has been operating a vehicle under the influence.
A final pretrial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 1 at the Brown County Courthouse. Jones' attorney, Brian Maloney, also represented wide receiver Geronimo Allison in the aftermath of a possession of marijuana charge last year.
The NFL does not take action on substance-abuse charges until after the court case is resolved, meaning Jones is likely to finish the 2017 season without punishment. If Jones is convicted, he could face additional discipline for 2018 under the league’s substance-abuse policy.
This is not his first run-in with the law. Jones was arrested Feb. 10, 2016, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to a report in the El Paso Times. A deputy observed Jones’ car swerving out of its lane shortly after 1 a.m., and the Intoxilyzer test registered breath alcohol concentration levels of 0.15 and 0.139. The legal limit in Texas is 0.08.
Jones, who played college football at the University of Texas at El Paso, eventually entered a pretrial diversion program that functions like probation but ends with the charge being dropped.
“By entering the program,” the newspaper reported, “Jones agrees to follow several probation-like conditions that include reporting to a probation officer, taking alcohol and drug tests, and attending several DWI-related classes and a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim impact panel.
“Unlike probation, if Jones successfully completes the program the driving while intoxicated charge will be dismissed.”
Jones was punished internally by UTEP coach Sean Kugler and did not miss any games in 2016, his final collegiate season.
“Aaron's situation was handled internally as is the case with every player,” Kugler said at the time. “He has been punished harshly, and I consider this matter to be put behind him, he will not be suspended further.”
A fifth-round pick by the Packers, Jones had become a revelation of sorts after an injury to starting tailback Ty Montgomery opened the door for increased playing time. Jones rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown in his first start Oct. 8 against the Cowboys and followed up with 131 yards and another touchdown against the New Orleans Saints two weeks later. He quickly vaulted to the top of the depth chart for an offense that desperately needed weapons to support backup quarterback Brett Hundley.
Jones’ momentum halted with a knee injury suffered against the Chicago Bears last week. He dropped out in the first quarter at Soldier Field, and tests revealed damage to his MCL. Jones is expected to miss a few more games.
Without him, the Packers have made fellow rookie Jamaal Williams their starting running back.