As if the Minnesota Vikings’ defense didn’t have enough to deal with on Sunday against Aaron Rodgers, another Aaron emerged last week as a weapon for the Green Bay Packers’ offense. Rookie Aaron Jones exploded for 125 yards rushing and one touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones, a fifth-round pick out of the University of Texas-El Paso, took the place of running back Ty Montgomery, who missed the matchup with Dallas because of a rib injury. While Montgomery participated fully in practice on Thursday and may play with a flack jacket against the Vikings, Jones is likely to see the majority of touches after his standout performance.
“We looked at him coming out,” Zimmer said. “We thought he was good. He’s got good quickness. He was good coming out of the backfield catching the ball. He was good on the runs, cuts. That gives another dimension.”
In his final year at UTEP, Jones rushed 229 times for 1,773 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and added 28 receptions out of the backfield. He broke off a 40-plus yard run in eight of his 12 games in 2016 and grabbed attention at the NFL Combine by ranking among the top running backs in the vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone, 40-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.
In last season’s win over the Packers, the Vikings shut down Green Bay’s running game, allowing just 53 yards on 19 carries and one catch to running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
“It’s different than when they had [Eddie] Lacy because it’s a different style of back, but it helps getting the run game going,” Zimmer said.
USA Today’s Zach Kruse wrote that Jones’ success helped the Packers’ play-action game against the Cowboys.
On the play below, you can see the fake handoff draw in the safety.
Playaction success No. 2: pic.twitter.com/pkQpJJ2XCq
— The Packers Wire (@ThePackersWire) October 11, 2017
“For one week, Jones and the Packers run game provided Rodgers with easy completions off playaction. Those opportunities will continue to form if Jones presents the defense someone to legitimately worry about in the backfield.”
The Vikings’ defense is a lot better against the run than what Jones faced last week. Minnesota ranks fourth in the NFL, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry.