Packers rookie Aaron Jones showing that he belongs
Green Bay — Rookie running back Aaron Jones surveyed the Packers locker room after Green Bay’s 24-10 exhibition victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 31.
Jones, a fifth-round selection from Texas El Paso, did all he could in the preseason finale to make the team’s final 53-man roster.
He rushed eight times for 48 yards, including a signature 24-yard burst that showcased his speed and vision. He caught a 1-yard touchdown pass to put the Packers up 14-3 just before halftime. He returned two kickoffs for 43 yards and played on virtually every special teams coverage and return units. He even made his first Lambeau Leap.
Since Jones was a young boy, he has dreamed of playing in the National Football League. It’s just a bit surreal that the first organized team he played on at age five with his twin brother, Alvin, in Tennessee was nicknamed the Packers.
After Jones patiently and politely answered wave after wave of questions from reporters — punctuated with “Yes sirs” and “thank you” — on if he did enough to make the Packers’ final 53, he let it sink in.
“I can’t believe it... I look right across this locker room every day and wow, that’s Aaron Rodgers,” Jones said with awe and a smile. “It’s been fun, you just have to make the most of every opportunity you get and that’s what I’ve really tried to do. But you also want to see the other guys succeed because we’re all in the same running back room. I feel like I did everything in my power to show I belong.”
General manager Ted Thompson and the Packers coaching staff obviously felt the 5-foot-9, 208-pound Jones did, officially naming him to the 53-man roster two days later. And fellow rookie running backs Jamaal Williams (Brigham Young, fourth round) and Devante Mays (Utah State, seventh round) made it too.
“Oh yes sir, I’d love to see all of us back in that running back room because both of those guys have worked hard through camp and seeing them work hard has just pushed me as well,” Jones said. “I love it here in Green Bay and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
The Packers running game is somewhat of a mystery in one of the league’s most explosive offenses. One certainty is that veteran Ty Montgomery will be featured, but the players behind him are unproven rookies. Versatility, though, is Jones’ strong suit, along with picking up Green Bay’s complex offense.
“I think I bring diversity (to the group),” he said. “I can catch, I can run, I can block. Everything. Including special teams, played on all four core special teams. I was able to pick up the offense pretty fast. It was similar to my college offense, just different terminology. And I’ve worked hard on my blocking and blitz pick-up techniques.”
Adapting to new environments and thriving is nothing new to Jones, who grew up in a military family and lived in Georgia, Germany, Tennessee, and Virginia through age 13. A four-year letterman in football, basketball, and track at Burges High School in El Paso, he harnessed his speed, versatility, and toughness to become the University of Texas-El Paso’s all-time leading rusher with 4,114 yards in just three seasons.
Throughout his athletic career, one constant has been his brother and teammate, Alvin, now a senior linebacker at UTEP. Alvin supported Aaron’s decision to leave college and pursue his NFL dream.
“We’ve competed in everything and supported each other in everything,” Aaron Jones said. “It’s prepared me for where I am now in Green Bay.”
Jones keeps in close contact with Alvin, his family, and his friends in Texas, especially in the wake of the devastating flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
“A lot of my college teammates live in Houston and I’ve just been in touch with them, talking to them,” Jones said. “They said they’re doing OK. My heart goes out to everybody dealing with that in Houston and Texas.”
Jones was thankful for all the help and relief efforts, particularly the multi-million dollar fund raised by Texans’ superstar J.J. Watt.
“Oh yes sir—what he’s done is amazing,” Jones said. “That’s somebody I look up to outside of football. We have a couple guys in our own locker room — Clay Matthews, Aaron Rodgers — who are out there in the community doing something with their platform. People pulling together is what it’s all about.”
PLAYBOOK ON AARON JONES
Born: Dec. 2, 1994, in Savannah, Ga.
Given name: Aaron LaRae Jones
Residence: El Paso, Texas
Best eating: My favorite meal is chicken wings. I just love them. You can never go wrong with wings.
Favorite movie: Sixth Man. It’s an old basketball movie about two brothers and I have a twin brother.
Favorite read: Only the Strong Survive by Allen Iverson.
My ride: I drive a 2003 Ford Explorer. I’ve been driving it since I was a junior in high school.
Roommate in Green Bay: Jamaal Williams, he’s a great guy.
My habits: I’m not messy, I’m not super neat, I’m not OCD neat. So, I’m in between.
Role models: My dad. My brothers. My sister and my mom. My family. I can’t say enough about them and how they’ve supported me.
NFL players I emulated growing up: Emmitt Smith and Marshall Faulk. Those two pretty much. I loved watching them growing up as a little kid and I wanted to wear No. 22 just like Emmitt Smith.
My life after football: I want to get into coaching or strength and conditioning.
I’d love to have dinner with...: Either Michael Jordon or Floyd Mayweather. Just to be around greatness and see what’s gotten them to the level that they’re at.