GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Jones doesn’t buy the notion that the lack of experience on the Green Bay Packers’ offense will result in diminished production.
“I think we can be very explosive,” the 28-year-old running back said. “We’ve got a lot of speed, got a lot of weapons, some people (you) may not have ever heard of and some people you may have heard of.”
Jones is one of the more familiar names on an offense that will be relying heavily on newcomers as the Packers adapt to life without four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was traded to the New York Jets.
That puts more of an onus on Jones to assert himself as a leader.
Jones is accepting that responsibility by following the lessons he learned from his parents — both military veterans — and from former teammates such as Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Marcedes Lewis.
“I had some of those vets who aren’t here anymore help me get to this spot. I’ve been more a lead-by-example guy, but those guys put me in situations, made me get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I think thank them for that,” Jones said. “I feel like it led to this and I’m ready to lead these guys in any way.”
He also is learning from the example his parents set while serving decades in the Army, with his father earning the rank of command sergeant major and his mother advancing to sergeant major. Jones’ father, Alvin Jones Sr., died in the spring of 2021 at the age of 57.
“It was never about them,” Jones said. “It was about the people that they were bringing along. When they were deployed, they were responsible for making sure that this group of people get back to their families safe. My dad told me so many times — and I’ve been there — he promised a kid’s mother, ‘I’ll make sure your son comes home safely.’ So things like that.
“It’s never about me, it’s about the people around me and who I can bring along and how I can help.”
Jones has tried to help out this year by being more vocal. His teammates already notice the difference.
“You see him in the huddle kind of getting the offensive line going before we go out in a competition period, just kind of encouraging the guys, ‘All right. Here we go,’ which is great,” running back AJ Dillon said. “It’s awesome. Definitely a couple of guys who were doing that role left, so he’s stepped up into that and done a great job so far throughout camp.”
Jones has long been a model teammate.
The 2017 fifth-round pick from UTEP is one of three players — Jim Brown and Adrian Peterson are the others — to rush for at least 5,000 yards, score at least 60 touchdowns from scrimmage and gain at least 5 yards per carry over their first six seasons in the league.
Each of the past two seasons, Jones has been the Packers’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which honors players for excellence on the field and service in the community.
He showed his loyalty to the Packers by agreeing in the offseason on a restructured deal that reduced his salary for this season. He followed that up by getting a tattoo of the Packers’ “G” logo on his knee.
“He does things the right way,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “You guys have heard me talk about him at length in terms of just what he does on the field, what he does off the field, what he does as a father, as a son. And I think everybody in that locker room holds him in the highest regard.”
Jones is hoping he can continue setting that type of example for years to come. As he enters his seventh NFL season, Jones believes he isn’t even at the halfway point of his career.
“I’m going longer than 12,” Jones said. “Hopefully a Frank Gore career. That’s the goal. I want to play as long as I can. And I feel like 12, I can definitely achieve that, but I want to go longer.”
NOTES: Rookie WR Dontayvion Wicks (concussion) didn’t practice Thursday. … The offense had to do push-ups or down-ups at the end of practice for a second day. That punishment goes to the players on whichever side of the ball loses that day’s main competition period. … QB Alex McGough, the USFL MVP, says he’s working late nights trying to learn the Packers’ playbook. McGough just signed with the Packers last week. “I probably go to bed at 1 a.m. just because I’m studying,” McGough said. “I don’t want to let these guys down.”