The Green Bay Packers are set to open training camp later this month. This is the next in a series of articles previewing the Packers position by position, analyzing the talent on the roster and discussing key questions that are facing the Packers as they begin preparation for the 2022 season.
Today we look at the running back position. For our look at the quarterbacks, click here. We will examine another position each day until the start of training camp.
- Aaron Jones
Jones is coming off a season that saw him gain 799 yards on the ground and catch a career-high 52 passes.
Jones is the lightning in the Packers thunder and lightning duo of running backs. He is a fast, one-cut runner who is a threat to break a long gain any time he touches the football.
Jones is also a dangerous receiver out of the backfield who can be lethal when he gets the ball in space.
One key for Jones is staying healthy. He has only played a full season’s worth of games once in his five NFL seasons although he’s never missed more than four games in any one campaign. Because of his relative lack of size at 5’9” and 208 pounds, the Packers don’t want to overuse him and wear him down.
Jones has a pair of thousand-yard seasons on his resume (2019 and 2020) and is perfectly capable of another this year. Look for him to be more involved in the passing game and to have another productive season this year.
- A.J. Dillon
Dillon is a big back who excels at running between the tackles. He led the Packers with 803 yards in 2021. He is a strong inside runner who is a challenge to bring down one-on-one.
The former Boston College star is a surprisingly good receiver although he wasn’t called on to do that much in college.
He is looking for his first 1,000-yard season in his third professional campaign. To do that, he may need to break off more runs of 10-yards or more this season.
- Kylin Hill
Hill is unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2022 season after suffering a season-ending knee injury returning a kickoff against the Cardinals.
Hill had a strong preseason but only had 24 yards on 10 carries in his eight games as the team’s third running back.
Once he returns, Hill will look to re-establish himself as the third back and primary kick returner although he will have competition for both jobs.
Hill is a candidate to start the season on the PUP list depending on how long he needs to complete his rehab from the injury.
- Patrick Taylor
Taylor stepped in when Hill was injured and gained 89 yards on 23 carries and catching two passes for three yards.
Taylor stands 6’2” and 217 pounds and has the potential to be a solid, change of pace back. He will be battling for the third running back job and to build on his first NFL action that he saw last season. His size and receiving skills are among his assets. He also has a strong work ethic.
- B.J. Baylor
The undrafted rookie out of Oregon State will be hoping to make an impression on the coaching staff to make the 53-man roster or at least earn a spot on the practice squad.
He gained more than 1,300 yards rushing last season in college but his lack of athleticism kept him from being drafted. Baylor has good vision and accelerates through the hole but tends to run upright which means he takes a lot of punishment.
- Tyler Goodson
Goodson is an experienced pass catcher out of the backfield who caught 70 passes during his college career. That and his ability to play special teams may be his ticket to the third running back spot or the practice squad.
The former Iowa star only stands 5’9” and weighs 197 pounds, but he could be an effective change-of-pace back at the NFL level.
Three Key Questions
- Can the Running Backs Pick Up the Slack?
With Davante Adams gone, Aaron Rodgers is expected to spread the ball around more rather than focusing on his favorite receiver. That likely means the running backs will get more opportunities to catch the ball this season.
When Adams has been hurt in the past, Jones often picked up the slack in the receiving game. The Packers will want to do that this year without overworking any of their backs.
Receiving skills could play a big role in who wins the third running back spot.
- Who Will Be RB3?
If Hill returns, he has to be considered the favorite to win the job, but not a prohibitive favorite. If Hill won’t be ready to start the season, the third receiver competition will be wide open.
Expect the Packers to keep three running backs on the active roster with at least one, probably two added to the practice squad.
Keeping both Jones and Dillon healthy will be a key to the offense this season.
- Who Will Lead the Team in Carries?
While Jones started most games, Dillon ended the season with 16 more carries. When both runners were available, Jones got a few more carries although the former UTEP star missed two games last season.
The Packers will have both backs on the field together more often this season and will try to show defenses different looks. Expect both the team’s top backs to get plenty of touches this season.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
Click here for more great Packers coverage