Packers' Aaron Jones running toward another milestone
GREEN BAY - Aaron Jones knows who's coming to town Sunday night.
The Green Bay Packers running back is months from becoming a free agent. Like any player approaching the open market, Jones has a keen awareness of the best at his position. That means he's well acquainted with Tennessee Titans tailback Derrick Henry.
"I think the world of Derrick Henry," Jones said. "He's a great back. He does a lot of great things for his team, and he brings the overall value of the position up. Shout out to Derrick Henry for helping all the backs out there. He's a great player."
Jones is no slouch himself. He enters Sunday night just 32 yards shy of reaching 1,000 for the second straight season. If he scores two rushing touchdowns in the next two games, he'll become only the second Packers running back ever with consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns, joining Jim Taylor (1961-62).
Jones said hitting the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career – this time while missing two games because of injury earlier in the season – would be meaningful to him.
"That's a great benchmark for any back to hit," Jones said, "especially, it's the NFL and that's a hard thing to do. So kudos to everybody who reaches it. I don't see it as something that comes easy."
Reaching the 1,000-yard mark Sunday would make this week a little sweeter for Jones, who was named a Pro Bowler for the first time in his career when rosters were announced Tuesday.
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"It's an honor," Jones said. "Hard work, it pays off. To finally get your honor, last year I felt like I was snubbed. So to put in the work this offseason and get that recognition, that achievement is huge.
"Been left off a lot of lists in my life. So to be on that one is definitely special."
Jones practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday and Thursday while dealing with a toe injury he sustained against the Panthers. However, his outlook is optimistic for Sunday’s game against the Titans.
“I was running and got jumped on from behind,” Jones said. “But my toe is doing good. Feel good at practice today. So I'm feeling good, I'm ready to go.”
While Jones should be available to play, the Packers are poised to be without running back Jamaal Williams, who missed his third consecutive practice on Thursday with a hip injury. The Packers will likely turn to rookie running back AJ Dillon to shoulder some of the load with Jones.
Dillon had just one carry in his last two games after sitting out for five weeks on COVID-19 reserve.
“AJ has had a great week of practice,” head coach Matt LaFleur said. “You can tell he's starting to get his wind back. Certainly anytime you take that type of layoff, it does have an effect on you. We're just really happy to have him back. He's looked good, and he'll be ready to go.”
Tight end Jace Sternberger and safety Will Redmond, who are both in concussion protocol, missed their third straight practice of the week.
With Jaire Alexander playing at a high level, teams are taking their chances more against cornerback Kevin King and the results haven’t always been pretty.
King had a rough game against Carolina, giving up 37- and 20-yard completions to receiver D.J. Moore, committing a holding penalty on third-and-nine that allowed the Panthers to finish the drive with a touchdown instead of a field goal and was flagged 15 yards for lowering his helmet on a tackle.
King looked like he was lumbering a bit when he picked up a fumble at the 5-yard line and took off for the end zone. He was chased by Moore and Robbie Anderson and eventually caught at the Carolina 47-yard line.
Secondary coach Jerry Gray was asked if King was playing hurt given he has 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash, but Gray said no.
“You could be a 4.4 guy, but if there's two guys chasing you that are 4.3 and 4.2, they probably are going to catch you,” Gray said. “And it took them 50 yards to catch him.”
King missed five games this year with a left thigh injury and has been on the injury report with Achilles and/or groin issues the past five weeks. Gray said he is not worried about King because he thinks the layoff earlier in the year set him back.
“He's really now getting back into the stride,” Gray said. "And so just think if he hadn't missed those five games, now he would probably be hitting his stride by now. So to me, I'm looking at what he's doing and he's trying to do the right thing.
“He’s getting treatment and doing all those things, but in the long run, I think he's going to be fine, especially down the stretch for us.”
LaFleur working Christmas
If LaFleur takes a break along with his team, which does not practice Christmas Day, it might not be for long.
LaFleur smiled when asked what his plans for Christmas might be.
"I'll try to take a little bit of time off," he said, "at least in the morning. But there's a job that needs to get done, and we've got a tremendous task in front of us, and it's whatever it takes. So, yeah. I'll definitely be putting some time into just making sure we've got everything in order to go out there and play our best game on Sunday night."