Jones’ in­jury opens door for Wil­liams

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - SPORTS - Michael Co­hen

GREEN BAY - Ever since Ed­die Lacy played his fi­nal snap for the Green Bay Pack­ers last Oc­to­ber, the only con­sis­tent el­e­ment of his for­mer em­ployer’s rush­ing at­tack has been the on­go­ing state of change, some­thing that is ex­pected to con­tinue af­ter in­juries to a pair of tail­backs dur­ing Sun­day’s win over the Chicago Bears.

Rookie Aaron Jones is ex­pected to miss sev­eral weeks with a knee in­jury af­ter drop­ping out in the first quar­ter at Soldier Field, ac­cord­ing to coach Mike McCarthy, and mul­ti­ple re­ports said Jones sus­tained dam­age to his MCL. It is typ­i­cally a three- to six-week in­jury.

Jones’ re­place­ment, Ty Mont­gomery, lasted into the sec­ond quar­ter of Sun­day’s game be­fore he dropped out as well. Mont­gomery ag­gra­vated a rib in­jury suf­fered in the first meet­ing against the Bears in late Septem­ber. He did not play in the sec­ond half and de­clined to speak with re­porters af­ter the game.

“I would say Aaron’s a mul­ti­ple-week

in­jury,” McCarthy said. “Ty, I think they’re still work­ing ex­ams and so forth. I would think he has a chance (to play) this week.”

Re­gard­less of Mont­gomery’s avail­abil­ity, there is a strong chance rookie Ja­mal Wil­liams en­ters Sun­day’s game against the Bal­ti­more Ravens as the fea­tured back af­ter an im­pres­sive re­lief per­for­mance in Chicago.

Wil­liams, a fourth-round pick from Brigham Young, played with ag­gres­sion and force to pre­serve a vic­tory that snapped his team’s three-game los­ing streak.

He car­ried 20 times for 67 yards and broke seven tack­les, ac­cord­ing to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Edgar Ben­nett, in what was eas­ily the best per­for­mance of his young ca­reer.

“I thought Ja­maal Wil­liams played ex­cel­lent,” McCarthy said. “He was ac­tu­ally a game-ball win­ner on special teams, and then you look at the way he played on of­fense.

“He clearly played his best foot­ball as a Green Bay Packer, the way he came in there and ran the foot­ball at the time where you needed to run it. He had phone-booth style runs and he de­liv­ered. I was very im­pressed with the way he played.”

Wil­liams sep­a­rated him­self from fel­low rook­ies Jones, a fifth-round pick, and Devante Mays, a sev­enth-round pick in the early por­tions of OTAs and train­ing camp. He ex­celled in pass pro­tec­tion and as a run­ner dur­ing first- and sec­ond-team reps be­hind Mont­gomery. By the end of camp, Wil­liams was en­trenched as the No. 2 tail­back.

But Wil­liams tum­bled down the depth chart when Jones ex­ploded for 125 yards and a touch­down in his first start.

Wil­liams re­ceived an­other chance against the Bears be­cause he was the only healthy tail­back re­main­ing on the ros­ter with Mays in­ac­tive. The end re­sult show­cased sig­nif­i­cant growth in a short pe­riod of time.

“To­tal con­fi­dence change I think (from) the way he started in the sea­son,” McCarthy said. “You could see in train­ing camp he clearly was ahead of the other two rook­ies, and I think when the sea­son started he was try­ing to do it right. He was try­ing to do things right. The ball car­riage was dif­fer­ent for him. He was think­ing too much.

“It’s some­thing that he ob­vi­ously doesn’t have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in. And then when he got in there (Sun­day), he cut it loose. He took a big step and I would say the key to it is con­fi­dence.”

The in­juries to Jones and Mont­gomery should pro­vide an in­creased op­por­tu­nity for Mays as well. Mays has been in­ac­tive for six of the Pack­ers’ nine games this sea­son and played only on special teams dur­ing the weeks he made the game-day ros­ter.

He will likely be ac­tive against the Ravens re­gard­less of Mont­gomery’s sta­tus, and the coaches spoke highly of his de­vel­op­ment dur­ing news con­fer­ences Mon­day.

“He’s com­ing along,” Ben­nett said. “He’s do­ing a pretty good job in prac­tice. That’s the start­ing point. He’s work­ing hard and mak­ing sure he’s well-pre­pared so when he gets his op­por­tu­nity he’ll be ready to go.”

MIKE DE SISTI / MILWAUKEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

Pack­ers run­ning back Aaron Jones runs through de­fend­ers for a gain against the Bears.

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