It wasn’t so much as the 25-year-old running back is dealing with an injury, but rather a central piece of the Packers‘ offense avoided getting hit 20-plus times last week.
“You get fresh,” Jones said, via the team’s official website.
Jones took a season-high 25 carries for 100 yards in Week 17’s last-second win in Detroit — a victory needed to clinch a bye — and caught two of six targets for 43 yards. Despite desperately diving repeatedly for passes, taking several big shots, and leaving the game for a spell at one point after suffering an injury, Jones insists the workload in the finale didn’t hurt.
“It was weird because I wasn’t really sore after that (Detroit) game,” he said. “I took some shots and I was expecting to be sore, because it was one of the more physical games I’ve played in this past year, and I was good.”
Still, the week off can’t have hurt.
If Aaron Rodgers is the driver of the Packers‘ offense, and Davante Adams is the jet-propulsion system, Jones is the engine. The running back has been the most consistent force in Green Bay’s offense this season. He gobbled up 1,084 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns, and also tied for the NFL lead with 19 scrimmage TDs. Keeping the offense afloat when the passing game was struggling to click, Jones ground over defenses.
For the first time in his three year career, Jones avoided an injury that cost him games, playing all 16 bouts.
“I take a lot of pride in it,” Jones said. “Availability is one of the biggest things here and in the league. If you’re not available, then you’re no good pretty much. I made it one of my goals to play 16 games — well, 16-plus, I want to keep going and stay healthy. That was one of my goals, to put all the doubters and the naysayers, and everybody saying he’s injury prone and he’s this and he’s that, to bed. It’s a good feeling.”
Against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Jones should see another sizable workload. A surging dual-threat weapon, Jones racked up 1,558 scrimmage yards, eighth-most in the league in 2019.
Seattle’s run defense faced three RBs this season who finished in top 10 in scrimmage yards in 2019, and allowed 126.0 scrimmage YPG and five TDs to those RBs. Christian McCaffrey went for 175 yards and two scores. Nick Chubb dashed for 139 scrimmage yards and also found paydirt twice. Dalvin Cook had 64 scrimmage yards and one score before leaving hurt with nearly two quarters to play.
The Seahawks also allowed 19 scrimmage TD to RBs in 2019 (4th-most in NFL).
“Everybody’s locked in, extra,” Jones said. “Every play matters, every inch matters. It’s the playoffs so you win or go home. Everything counts.”
Put that quote in your playoff preview.