Packers second-round running back AJ Dillon ready for more work
GREEN BAY - Second-round pick AJ Dillon has played 15 snaps through the first four games of his NFL career, carrying the ball eight times for 34 yards (4.3 average). They’ve come, however, thanks to some fourth-quarter leads the Packers have played with against Minnesota, Detroit and Atlanta. He did not play in the 37-30 victory at New Orleans.
Head coach Matt LaFleur has said he wants to give Dillon the ball more, and running backs coach Ben Sirmans said the 6-foot, 247-pounder is prepared for it.
“I know he's ready,” Sirmans said. “It's just more of a product of those other two guys, sometimes based on what we're doing schematically, can fit in a little bit better than what he can. At the beginning of the year, without having OTAs, without having minicamp, those things take a little bit longer for guys to develop. But now that he's gone through training camp and now that we've gone through several weeks of the season, I think he's at that point where he's got a better grasp, not just of the offense, but just the speed of the game.
“It's just a matter of now just really putting him there and just letting him go.”
Given the Packers have the No. 2 offense in the NFL and are fifth in the league in rushing thanks to the multi-dimensional play of Aaron Jones (80 touches, 509 total yards, 6 total touchdowns) and Jamaal Williams (42 touches, 227 total yards), it can be tough to blend in essentially a third-string player.
“There's this fine line about trying to get somebody involved in a game,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “We always have the mindset going in on how we want to attack and who we want to attack with, so I think you just have to be able to adjust as the game goes on and always have those things that you think you're going to be able to get somebody the ball but knowing the percentages to guarantee it is, it's rare."
Packers looking at Aaron Jones' twin
Aaron Jones was hosting his twin brother, Alvin, in Green Bay a few weeks ago when his agent called about an opportunity from the Packers, but the voice on the other end of the phone wasn’t looking for him.
No, this wasn’t a call about Jones’ pending contract situation. Instead, it was to inform him the Packers were hosting Alvin Jones Jr. for a workout. If all went well, the twins who have been almost inseparable since birth would for the first time be reunited in the NFL.
“I’m glad he’s going to get his opportunity,” Jones said, “and get a chance to work out. I know he’ll do whatever he needs to do, and hopefully he’s on the team with me. I’d love to have that. That’d be a true joy.”
Alvin Jones’ workout hasn’t happened yet, his brother said. First, he must go through a six-day quarantine to meet the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
That means Alvin Jones can be in Green Bay, but Aaron Jones can’t see his brother until after quarantine.
“It’s kind of weird,” Aaron Jones said. “It’s been the first time since I’ve been like in the same city as him and not been able to see him.”
In Alvin Jones, the Packers are doing their homework on an athletic linebacker who transitioned from safety in college. Alvin Jones played with Aaron Jones at the University of Texas-El Paso, located in their hometown. While Aaron Jones left school one year earlier than his brother and has become a star running back with the Packers, Alvin Jones spent time on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad in 2018.
When it does come time for his brother’s workout, Aaron Jones said he’ll avoid the temptation of asking general manager Brian Gutekunst to observe.
“I do want to watch it,” Aaron Jones said, “but I think I’m just going to leave that alone.”
Kevin King practices; return questionable
For the first time this week, Packers cornerback Kevin King (quadriceps) participated in individual and team drills at Friday’s practice.
The 25-year-old starting cornerback practiced in a limited capacity and he’s listed as questionable to play in Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. King was injured in the first half of Week 4 vs. the Atlanta Falcons. LaFleur said King will be a game-time decision.
“We’ll go back and watch the tape, and talk to Kevin, see how he’s feeling (Saturday), and just kind of give him up till game time to see if he can go or not,” LaFleur said. “That’s ultimately a decision that we’ll make as an organization, though, because we don’t want to put him at risk.”
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The Packers will see the return of nose tackle Kenny Clark (groin) and wide receiver Davante Adams (hamstring) against the Buccaneers. Both Clark and Adams practiced all week in a full capacity, which they hadn’t done since sustaining their injuries in Week 1 vs. the Minnesota Vikings and Week 2 vs. the Detroit Lions, respectively. Each player has been removed from the injury report.
Adams said the hamstring feels “even better” this week than it did leading up to the game against the Falcons. Clark said he feels relieved that he’s available to play after missing three consecutive games.
“The bye week definitely helped my groin out," Clark said. “Just gave it another week to heal, gave me another week to do some more mobility stuff on different parts of the body to make me stronger.”
Running back and return specialist Tyler Ervin (wrist) has been ruled out. LaFleur said wide receiver Darrius Shepherd, cornerback Josh Jackson and wide receiver Malik Taylor are in the mix as options to return kickoffs and punts.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) and defensive lineman Montravius Adams (neck) returned to practice Friday in a limited capacity after sitting out Thursday. Lewis has been removed from the injury report and Adams is listed as questionable.
Outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith (ankle) and Rashan Gary (ankle) were limited in practice on Friday. They’re listed as questionable against the Buccaneers.
Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) and inside linebacker Kamal Martin (knee), who are both on injured reserve, practiced all week. The Packers have a three-week window to sign the players to the 53-man roster before placing them on season-ending IR or releasing them. LaFleur would not reveal if either player is healthy enough to play Sunday.
Buccaneers’ starting cornerback Carlton Davis, defensive lineman Khalil Davis and running back Leonard Fournette are listed as questionable against the Packers. Wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have been removed from the injury report and will available for Sunday’s game.