GREEN BAY – The Packers went into Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears optimistic about the difference Aaron Jones could make after he sat out the previous meeting between the two teams earlier this season.
Instead, the second-year running back exited with a knee injury in the first quarter and didn’t return, finishing with only four carries for eight yards and breaking his streak of five consecutive games with a rushing touchdown.
The eeriest part for Jones was the injury occurred under almost the exact same circumstances as when he injured his knee in last year’s game at Soldier Field after running to the left in the first quarter.
“Was going the same direction, first half, first quarter – it felt like deja vu,” Jones said.
With Jones out, the Packers turned to Jamaal Williams to carry the load for the remainder of the game. The 2017 fourth-round pick didn’t disappoint, rushing for 55 yards and Green Bay’s only touchdown on 12 carries.
Williams also finished second on the team with four catches for 42 yards, including back-to-back receptions for 34 yards on the first two plays after Jones left the game with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter.
“Just be ready,” said Williams of his mindset. “Next man up, always stay prepared, stay mentally prepared like you are going to be the starter. Just go in and do your job.”
The Packers entered Sunday’s game with only Jones, Williams and fullback Danny Vitale on the active roster after Tra Carson was recently placed on season-ending injured reserve with a rib injury.
While Williams’ opportunities had been limited over the past month, the second-year running back had started the first five games of the season and served as the Packers’ primary back in the opener against the Bears when Jones was serving a two-game suspension.
In addition to his pair of catches in the first quarter, Williams also rattled off a season-long carry of 20 yards before halftime and scored a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter. It tied the game at 14 after a successful two-point conversion pass to receiver Davante Adams.
The full extent of Jones’ injury wasn’t immediately known, with Jones adding he was set to undergo further tests on his knee with team doctor Pat McKenzie and the training staff.
Although Jones wanted nothing more than to be on the field Sunday, he was proud of how his close friend held the position down in his absence.
“I feel like he did a great job,” Jones said. “I told him, ‘Hey, we’re going to need you,’ and right after that, he scored a touchdown. I think Jamaal did a great job protecting, catching the ball and running the ball. It just shows what kind of back he is and what he can do.”