GREEN BAY – Aaron Jones expected punishment from the NFL after violating its substance-abuse policy last year, but the Green Bay Packers running back said he was surprised by the severity.
Jones said he hoped the league would suspend him only one game, but instead he was handed two games after appeal. He’ll miss the Packers' opener against the Chicago Bears and Week 2 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, leaving the backfield shorthanded until a late September trip to Washington.
Jones was arrested in October and faced several charges after admitting during a traffic stop to smoking marijuana. He pleaded not guilty to charges of speeding, driving without a valid license and operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in his system.
“I’ll just have to take the two games,” Jones said. “I can’t do anything about it but get ready for Week 3. Finish training camp, come out healthy, play all four games and then Week 3 come out and be ready.”
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The second-year running back said he expects to be available for all four preseason exhibitions despite missing the past couple practices with what the Packers are classifying as “hamstring tightness.” Jones was running for a pass early in Saturday’s practice, he said, when he “tweaked” his hamstring.
Jones hopes to practice Tuesday, he said. If not, he expects to return by Thursday at the latest, following Wednesday’s off day.
“If it was game time,” Jones said, “I would play. It’s more of a precaution.”
Coach Mike McCarthy did not provide a timeline for when he expects Jones to return. It wouldn’t seem urgent to return considering his looming suspension, except early in camp was when Jones figured to get his heaviest workload in practice.
There will come a time in camp when Jones’ practice reps taper off as the Packers prepare their available tailbacks. That time wasn’t expected to be early in camp, when the Packers are installing the offense they’ll use throughout the season.
“We break training camp into two phases,” McCarthy said. “You have your install phase, so we’re trying to get everybody ready. Then when you get into preseason phase, that’s the second phase. So I’m not really even looking to that right now. We have our Install 4 practice today.”
Without practicing Monday, Jones has missed half the Packers installations in the early part of camp. There are ways to prevent falling behind. He’s still involved with meetings, and he can study his playbook whenever.
Regardless, Jones said he wants to return as quickly as possible.
“This is a big point for me,” Jones said. “I’m going to be shut down for two weeks. So I want to be able to make the most out of the preseason and get as close to game form as I can.”