Green Bay Packers: A lot riding on young running backs

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Aaron Jones /

Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams both showed flashes of brilliance in their rookie years with the Green Bay Packers. Both have extremely promising careers and are essential parts of the Packers’ offense this coming season.

The Green Bay Packers made a number of changes to their offense during the offseason. They again overhauled the tight end position, signing both Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis to free agent deals. Lance Kendricks is still on the depth chart, while Martellus Bennett and Richard Rodgers from last season are gone.

The offensive line is still one of the better units in the league, and the depth received a shot in the arm thanks to the drafting of Cole Madison and signing veteran Byron Bell. With David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga still starting at either tackle position, the problems from the past on the offensive line have usually come from the interior of the line.

With Davante Adams set as the team’s number one receiver on the boundary, the Packers are going to need some significant production from their running backs in order to help offset some of the attention that Adams and Jimmy Graham will garner.

Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are strikingly different players. Jones provides an interesting dose of wiggle to the offense, and is shifty enough to squirm through holes and run to daylight. Williams is more of a battering ram who can provide the punch that Jones cannot. The Packers will be in dire need of one of them to break out after they both enjoyed solid rookie seasons.

Jones rushed for 448 yards on 81 carries in his rookie year, and crossed the goal line four times. Williams rushed for 556 yards on 153 carries and also scored four touchdowns. While those numbers aren’t particularly outstanding, both running backs were impressive enough while working with backup quarterback Brett Hundley to suggest that with Aaron Rodgers back under center, the team will be able to take advantage of their potential.

Jones and Williams figure to be interesting options for Rodgers out of the backfield in the passing game as well. Eddie Lacy, Brandon Saine, James Starks, and Brandon Jackson have all been efficient receivers for Rodgers out of the backfield in the past, and both Jones and Williams have the proper tools to improve their abilities as a receiver.

Jones, along with Ty Montgomery, can line up at receiver fairly often while Williams can be featured in screens. The team’s offensive linemen are unusually athletic and can get down the field in a hurry to create a convoy of blockers for the ball carrier.

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With Rodgers, Adams, Randall Cobb, and Graham making defensive backs sweat, the running backs will have a unique chance to impress this season for the Packers. With training camp only a week away, Williams and Montgomery will fight for the starting position come Week 1, and Jones when he returns from suspension in Week 3.