GREEN BAY - If not for a little luck that went the Green Bay Packers’ way Sunday, nobody would be calling for running back Aaron Jones to carry the ball more.
They would be lamenting that Jones was out for the season.
On Jones’ 30-yard run in the 22-0 victory over the Buffalo Bills, the second-year back threw a stiff arm at safety Rafael Bush as both were nearing the sideline. Bush did what he was taught to do and grabbed Jones’ arm and held it down.
As he held on, he whipped Jones down face first, bending his right arm in an awkward position and causing a violent collision with the turf. The way Jones fell, with Bush hanging onto his arm, it’s a miracle Jones didn’t break his arm, tear a biceps muscle or rip up his rotator cuff.
Asked how he avoided injury on the play, Jones said, “God. That’s the only thing I can think of. I keep going back to look at what happened and I’m like, ‘That could have been bad.’
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Jones rolled over after the tackle and flexed his biceps in celebration of his long run, but adrenaline might have been the reason he was able to do it. He said after the game, he could feel some discomfort in his elbow.
But he is no worse for wear and practiced in full Wednesday.
“I got lucky,” Jones said. “Maybe my offseason paid off.”
Jones said the next time he gets in that situation he’ll either forget the stiff arm or make sure he doesn’t give the defender a chance to grab his arm.
“Next time, I might just lower my pads,” said Jones, who carried 11 times for 65 yards and a touchdown and caught one pass for 17 yards. “I should have waited until he got closer and then shot it out there and then pulled it back.
“I threw it out there and held it out there, so he was able to grab onto it.”
Guard Justin McCray wasn’t scheduled to practice Wednesday but the medical staff thought he had made enough progress to allow him to take part in the pre-practice drills.
McCray has a left shoulder injury that he said involves no structural damage and is a matter of pain management. He said he would like to take part in the padded practice Thursday, but he wasn’t sure if the staff would give him the go-ahead for that.
Veteran Byron Bell, who started in place of McCray against the Bills, practiced again at right guard and is likely to start against the Lions.
The Packers knew Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (concussion) would miss practice on Wednesday, but No. 1 wideout Davante Adams appeared on the injury report with a calf issue. He was a limited participant.
That left rookies J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown as the only receivers who got through the day healthy.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not participate in Wednesday's practice, but he said he expects to practice on Thursday.
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“I told those guys before Week 1, I said, ‘you’re all going to get an opportunity at some point, when you step in, there’s an expectation you’re going to make the plays,”’ Rodgers said of the trio of rookies. “So we’ve got to keep improving in practice. To be able to get out there tomorrow as long as I don’t have any setbacks in the next 22 hours I expect to be out there (Thursday) and it would be good to give those guys some opportunities in practice to keep trying to grow together.”
Tight end Jimmy Graham also did not participate due to his knee, but last week head coach Mike McCarthy said the Wednesday day off was for “maintenance.” Limited participants in Wednesday’s session were corner Jaire Alexander (groin), right tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) and McCray. Corner Kevin King (groin) was a full participant.
Lions push run game
Detroit has the league’s 11th-best offense, due largely to the arm of Matthew Stafford. But Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has tried to balance the run-pass ledger a bit the last two weeks. After a 105 to 33 imbalance of pass attempts to rushes in the first two games, the Lions have run it 53 times and thrown it 66 the last two.
The new additions to the offense are rookie Kerryon Johnson, who leads the Lions with 38 attempts, and veteran free-agent acquisition LeGarrette Blount has 35.
All-purpose back Theo Riddick has just five rushes, but he has 21 catches.
“I think really the whole running back group has just changed the football team,” McCarthy said. “I understand they have a lot of the same players, same system, but the emphasis on the run is there. I mean there's no doubt.
“I think it speaks volumes about the change in that direction and frankly, the production of the run game.”
Johnson, a second-round pick out of Auburn, is averaging 5.7 yards per rush. Riddick may technically be a receiver when he gets his hands on the ball, but he’s averaging 5.6 yards per catch. Blount, 32, is averaging just 2.7 yards per rush but remains a tough tackle at 247 pounds.
“You just gotta watch film, know what your guy does and know what those three guys do,” Packers safety Kentrell Brice said. “They’re all three different type of runners, so it’s a different style and a different mentality for each guy. So you just gotta know who’s in the game and know how to play him.”