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Packers running backs

Aaron Jones could play more on third downs

Jamaal Williams signed with the Lions. I think this will force Green Bay to use Aaron Jones more in obvious passing situations. That could be both a good and a bad thing.

As it stands, I don’t think the Packers have another back they would trust putting on the field for a lot of those plays. AJ Dillon, I’m confident, is going to play a lot more this year, but I don’t think he’s a guy they want on the field in those situations yet. So I would think Jones will have to pick up more of those duties.

Over the last two years, Jones has caught 96 passes. Williams has caught 70 balls.

But if the Packers are using Jones more, that will expose him to more punishment. That’s worrying, with him being a smaller guy who’s had a fair share of injuries.

I also note that Jones hasn’t been as efficient as Williams as a pass catcher. Over the last two years, 30 running backs have been targeted at least 80 times. Of that group, Williams ranks No. 1 in catch rate, catching 88 percent of the balls thrown his way. Jones ranked down at 26th (73 percent). Only four backs have lower catch rates (of the lower four, one isn’t even on a team right now, and two others are guys nobody wants to see on the field on third downs).

Packers are looking at younger players, I suppose. Would not surprise me if they add a veteran at some point who could handle some of their third-down work. Two of the top seven guys on this list are currently free agents: Devonta Freeman and LeVeon Bell (thought I’m not sure where those guys are at physically and mentally – whether they’re hungry to play).

RUNNING BACKS, CATCH RATES (last 2 years)
PlayerTgtRecYardsAvgTDPct
Jamaal Williams80704897.0688%
James Conner81694666.8385%
Austin Ekeler1731461,3969.61084%
LeVeon Bell98825997.3184%
Dalvin Cook117978809.1183%
Christian McCaffrey1611331,1548.7583%
Devonta Freeman80664687.1483%
Alvin Kamara2041641,2897.9680%
Nyheim Hines1341078027.5480%
Chris Carson93745537.5680%
Kareem Hunt95755897.9679%
James White1571211,0208.4677%
David Montgomery103796237.9377%
Chris Thompson81625248.5177%
Leonard Fournette1471127556.7076%
Kenyan Drake99754826.4076%
Giovani Bernard102775897.6375%
Tarik Cohen113854975.8375%
J.D. McKissic1521148227.2375%
Melvin Gordon99744546.1275%
Ezekiel Elliott1421067587.2475%
Duke Johnson97726599.2474%
David Johnson93696849.9674%
Chase Edmonds88655077.8574%
Devin Singletary91674636.9274%
Aaron Jones131968298.6573%
Ronald Jones82594748.0172%
Saquon Barkley82584988.6271%
Miles Sanders115787069.1368%
Todd Gurley84563716.6267%

—Ian Allan

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