Our guys give their predictions for Sunday's showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. (Nov. 17, 2017)
GREEN BAY - Rookie running back Jamaal Williams will be counted on to pick up where he left off last week when the Green Bay Packers host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Friday morning he expected his team would be without tailback Ty Montgomery against the Ravens, and Montgomery later was ruled out on the injury report. The Packers are also without starting running back Aaron Jones, who will miss three to six weeks with a torn MCL.
Montgomery, dealing with his second rib injury this season, should return sooner.
“I don’t think there’s a long-term concern,” McCarthy said.
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The Packers drafted three running backs this offseason precisely for this possibility. A year ago, they lost their top two running backs at nearly the same time when Eddie Lacy and James Starks went down with injuries.
At the time, their departures spelled temporary disaster for the Packers' backfield, which shuffled through running backs until finally finding a solution by converting Montgomery from receiver.
Jones and Montgomery were injured in the same game against the Chicago Bears. This time, there was no disaster. After Williams was elevated from third string, he finished with 67 yards on a team-high 20 carries.
“With the experiences of last year,” running backs coach Ben Sirmans said, “that’s probably why we drafted three running backs this year. We knew that two of those guys were definitely going to have to play this year. … We started off this year having four guys in the fold, so you don’t have to worry about going outside of the organization to bring guys in like we did last year.
“We kind of prepared ourselves for this moment. You hope you don’t have to go through it, but that’s all part of the experience.”
Behind Williams, fellow rookie running back Devante Mays likely will get his first carries this season. Mays, a seventh-round pick, has been active for only three games through the Packers’ first nine. When active, Mays has been used exclusively for special teams.
Sirmans said he hopes Mays can rotate into the backfield against the Ravens.
“I want to see this guy play,” Sirmans said.
The Packers will see Sunday if their preparation indeed was put to good use.
The Ravens have one of the league’s top defenses in most categories, including eighth in scoring (19), sixth in yards (310.6) and second against the pass (184.7). But they rank 28th against the run, and the Packers will need a consistent run game to support quarterback Brett Hundley.
Sirmans said he has no issue with Williams leading the Packers' run game.
“He’s a downhill runner,” Sirmans said, “trying to get four yards-plus, very aggressive. I think it just took him some time to get a comfort level just with what we were doing. And once that happened, he just relaxed and stopped being as conservative as he was as a runner, and figured, ‘Hey man, this is just like running in college,’ at least from the way he goes about his business.
“The things that we thought he possessed is what he showed.”