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With Davante Adams and Aaron Jones both healthy, 17 + 33 = ‘A lot of fun’ for Packers offense

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Packers running back Aaron Jones has seven touchdowns (5 rushing, 2 receiving) in six games this season.

GREEN BAY — Billy Turner looked into the Zoom camera as if the question had been asked by Captain Obvious himself.

The Green Bay Packers veteran right tackle — or left tackle, as he has been for the past three weeks while All-Pro David Bakhtiari was sidelined with a chest injury — is aware of just how much the Aaron Rodgers-led offense has accomplished this season.

The Packers entered the week ranked seventh in the NFL in total offense (395.9 yards per game), third in scoring offense (31.6 points), 10th in rushing (126.6 yards), eighth in passing (269.3 yards), first in time of possession (33 minutes, 19 seconds), tied for fourth in yards per play (6.2) and leading the NFL with the fewest giveaways (three).

Rodgers, meanwhile, enters Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field leading the NFL in quarterback rating (117.5) and on a trajectory that’s pointing toward a possible third NFL MVP award.

And, as Turner well knows, all this has happened despite their two biggest weapons — wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones — scarcely being on the field together through the first eight games.

So, Turner was asked, is there a certain electricity in the offensive meeting room knowing that Adams and Jones should be back to full health for the Jaguars?

“I think that’s kind of an obvious statement,” Turner replied Thursday afternoon. “Everyone knows we have a handful of great, phenomenal, Hall of Fame-caliber players on this team, more specifically on our offense.

“With that being said, how we are bred and how we are built is to go out there and to perform with whoever we’re going out there to perform with. If 17 (Adams) is not in the game, you better believe we’ve got the same mentality to go deep and be able to throw the football. If 33 (Jones) is not in the game, we have the same mentality to go out there and run the football down anyone’s throat. It does not matter.

“Obviously, when you have an opportunity to have those caliber players on the field at the same time, you do get excited just because you feel as though your chances of success per that down, per that game that series, that quarter, that half, whatever just increases that much more.”

When Adams and Jones were both in the lineup for the team’s 34-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 5, it marked just the second time the two were both in the lineup since Adams suffered a hamstring injury suffered early in the second half of the Sept. 20 win over Detroit.

Adams missed the next two games, then returned to action for a 38-10 loss at Tampa Bay on Oct. 18. In that game, neither Adams, who caught six passes for 61 yards and was Rodgers’ intended target on the quarterback’s only two interceptions of the season, nor Jones, who carried 10 times for 15 yards and had a season-low 41 total yards from scrimmage, were their normally productive selves.

Jones then suffered a calf injury in practice the following week and missed two games himself — at Houston on Oct. 25 and against Minnesota on Nov. 1.

Jones returned against the 49ers, and while Adams caught 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown; Jones played more than expected and wound up with 79 total yards on 20 touches, although he admitted being a bit rusty.

Having gotten back into the lineup, now he’s looking forward what he and Adams can conjure up together.

“I was just happy to be back out there on the field,” said Jones, who on the season has gained 629 total yards (447 rushing, 182 receiving) and scored seven total touchdowns. “I was able to come out of the game with no setbacks, feeling great as well. You miss the little things. Football is different when you get to be out there playing it with your brothers versus watching it and being with them. I really missed that part.

“I have fun out there with ‘Tae.’ I just think we’re going to continue to build on what we’ve been doing and we’re going to continue to see him ball. It’s just going to be a lot of fun.“

The obvious benefit to having upper echelon players at wide receiver and running back is the dilemma it presents for opposing defenses. Devote a safety to providing help for the cornerback covering Adams, and that’s one fewer defender to try to stop Jones on the ground. Commit to bringing a safety down into the box to help slow down Jones, and suddenly it’s much harder to contain Adams.

“Obviously the easy answer to eliminate a lot of big plays from bigger-time receivers is you go Cover-2. That slims down the options for us (in the passing game),” said Adams, who despite missing those 2½ games still has 53 catches for 675 yards and eight touchdowns. “But on the flip side of that, you go Cover-2, it just allows for better running lanes. And if you do that with ‘33’ out there, you’re going to be in trouble.

“I’d say we kind of balance each other out and keep these defenses honest.”

Or keep defenses up at night.

“Certainly, you want all your weapons at your disposal,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “And those are two explosive guys that are capable of making big plays and really helping our offense succeed.”

And, the Packers may get even more help. No. 2 receiver Allen Lazard, out since suffering a core muscle injury Sept. 27 that required surgery, is set to come off the injured reserve list, and No. 2 running back Jamaal Williams has been removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Add in Bakhtiari, who practiced in full for the second straight day, and the Packers should be close to full strength on offense Sunday.

“Jonesy is such a different type of back. And then Davante is just such a talented guy. (Plus) I’m excited about the possibility of getting Allen back, based on what he accomplished early in the season, the start that he got off to, and Dave back as well,” Rodgers said. “We’ve kind of weathered some spots in our schedule without a lot of guys. Maybe this is the year we’re getting our guys back and getting them back in the fold for the stretch run. Hopefully that’s the case starting this week.”

Extra points

LaFleur stopped short of saying Bakhtiari was good to go, saying instead that the four-time all-pro tackle was “trending in the right direction,” then adding, “it comes down to his ability to go out there and function and make sure that he’s able to protect himself and not get any worse.” …Cornerback Jaire Alexander (concussion) missed practice for the second straight day. … Backup tackle Rick Wagner (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis. … Tight end Robert Tonyan (ankle) was added to the report, while veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) did not practice after being limited Wednesday. … Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith returned after missing Wednesday’s practice for the birth of his son.

Photos: Packers' 2020 season so far in pictures


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