Heading into Dallas for a rematch of last year’s dramatic playoff victory, Green Bay had injuries on both sides of the ball that were going to factor the game. It is never easy when a team is missing pieces of their offensive line, as the Packers have all season so far with new groups of guys out there seemingly just about every week.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga returned to the starting lineup from injury this week, but starting left tackle David Bakhtiari was ruled out yet again as he battles a hamstring injury. With a makeshift offensive line, getting an established run game becomes critical if you want to give your quarterback enough time in the pocket. Workhorse running back Ty Montgomery was ruled out with broken ribs, and second string Jamaal Williams had been battling injuries of his own.
Enter Aaron Jones. The 22-year-old out of the University of Texas El Paso was drafted in the fifth round of the draft this last year by Green Bay, and showed signs of being able to provide a spark in the run game last week in limited work against the Bears. Playing at Jerry World for the most highly anticipated matchup of the week, Jones did not disappoint in his first NFL start.
Sifting his way through blocks and exploding out of cuts, Jones gashed Dallas for chunk gains time and time again from start to finish. Even though the Cowboys kept the Packers’ offense off the field for long periods of time in hopes of slowing down Green Bay, the rookie never missed a beat. He finished the game with 19 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown, outdoing Cowboys phenom Ezekiel Elliott (29 carries for 116 yards) enroute to a thrilling last second victory as Rodgers completed a go-ahead touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds left.
While the Packers certainly miss Ty Montgomery and his playmaking ability, it comes as a pleasant surprise to see their late round draft pick stepping up and playing incredibly well in such a tough environment. With Montgomery likely to be nagged by his rib injuries for awhile going forward, Aaron Jones could carve his way into some sort of timeshare role in the Packers offense.
Nothing wrong with adding another lethal weapon to Aaron Rodgers’ high-powered offense. Sunday’s 35-31 victory over the Cowboys put Green Bay at 4-1 on the season with a rivalry matchup on the road against the Vikings up next. If Jones can continue to run wild, the Packers should show no signs of slowing down.