Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones is clearly tired of being called injury-prone.
Jones was injured as a rookie when he tore his MCL. He was injured in training camp with a hamstring issue. Mike McCarthy reportedly was limiting Jones‘ early action because he wanted him healthy for the stretch run.
Well, there is no stretch run now. There is no McCarthy either, at least not as coach of the Packers. So that’s out the window.
Yet Jones has never had 20 carries in a game at the NFL level. Odd for a guy who averages 5.7 yards per carry. Of course, not odd for McCarthy by any means.
Jones’ high this season was 17 carries against the Vikings.
Jones hasn’t barked for more carries. He says he’s wondered about it. What it might mean. He also feels he’s capable of it.
“I feel like that’s something I’m physically able to do,” Jones said. “I feel good on Mondays, Tuesdays. After the game, I might be a little sore, but I feel good and like, ‘Hey, I could’ve taken a couple more carries.’”
Jones has 642 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. He’d surely have at least a few more if he hadn’t missed the first two games because of a marijuana suspension. He’d also have a few more if McCarthy had utilized him more earlier in the season. In three of Jones’ first four games back he carried the ball fewer than 10 times.
It was aggravating to watch. Still, Jones has a legitimate shot at 1,000 yards. That wouldn’t be bad in 14 games. That’s how guys like Jim Taylor did it. In 14 games.
Jones, however, is just focused on finishing the season healthy and getting rid of the damn injury-prone label.
“I definitely think for any athlete who’s missed a couple games last year,” Jones said, “finishing the season strong and putting an end to all of that, ‘Oh, he’s injury prone,’ and all this and all that, that definitely will help.”
The Packers usually ride their backs late in the season when the weather turns foul. That would make a lot of sense this season. However, with Aaron Rodgers playing at perhaps an all-time low, teams have started to focus on stopping Jones first.
It will be interesting to see if Jones can remain effective and remain healthy with so much attention on him during these final four games.