GREEN BAY – Fourth-round draft pick Jamaal Williams has earned the right to go first in practice when it comes to the Green Bay Packers’ class of rookie running backs.
His number of successful runs has helped, but what really has separated him from fellow draft picks Aaron Jones and Devante Mays and undrafted rookie Kalif Phillips, according to offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett, is his pass blocking.
“You go back and watch the tape, he did a really good job from a protection standpoint,” Bennett said Wednesday. “And so now, it goes back to being consistent and doing it every single time.
“When he’s in that huddle, protecting that quarterback every single time, knowing his assignment and being extremely efficient at how he’s blocking whenever we get in that situation, that one-on-one. I would probably say that more than anything else stands out with him.”
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Jones and Phillips have struggled the most with protection while Mays has done maybe a little better. At 6-foot, 213 pounds, Williams, who rushed for 1,375 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry for BYU last year, uses his big frame and long arms to his advantage.
Starter Ty Montgomery has had considerable troubles in pass-blocking drills and admitted he still has a ways to go. Williams will need to show he can produce with the ball in his hands, but it definitely helps that he can block.
Right now, Bennett said, they’re learning how critical it is to protect the quarterback in the Packers' offense.
“They’re all getting an opportunity,” he said. “We have walk-throughs, and then they obviously get those opportunities on the practice field so that when they are in those situations, they make it count.
“I think so far some of our young guys have done a good job of that and now we’ve just got to continue to build on it and be consistent.”
As for carrying the ball, the Packers really won’t know what they have until they get into games and see who can make the right reads and cuts under pressure, who can break a tackle when he’s in the open field.
Montgomery is the starter, but the others are going to get a lot of playing time in the exhibition games.
“Any time you’re a young player, the No. 1 thing you want to make sure you get done, you don’t want to make mistakes,” Bennett said. “And if you do have an occasional mistake, you’ve got to learn from it, so you never repeat that mistake.
“So that’s a big part of it, being consistent, and then just to see guys play with that confidence. Obviously running the football, that’s important. Catching the football as a receiver out of the backfield as well.”