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Packers running back Aaron Jones on Clubhouse Live: 'We know what to do' in close games


Brett Christopherson   | Appleton Post-Crescent

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones co-hosted Monday's Clubhouse Live, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s live weekly football show. Packers rookie offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins was Jones’ guest.

Among the topics they touched on were rushing for 1,000 yards, the Pro Bowl, the running game, grinding out close wins and having success as a rookie. The show can be seen live at The Clubhouse Sports Pub & Grill in downtown Appleton or at clubhouselive.com.

Here are select and edited answers from the interview:

WATCH:  Clubhouse Live with Aaron Jones and Elgton Jenkins

Q: You eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark during Sunday's victory over the Lions. That's a milestone season rushing number for all running backs, so how much did it mean to you to hit that target?

Jones: It's a blessing. That was one of my goals coming into the season. There have been a lot of backs to play this game over the 100 years, and there's not many who have rushed for 1,000 yards. I think I read a stat before the season that only like 3.6 percent of people drafted after the fifth round rushed for 1,000 yards (in a season). So that's big to me. But all the credit isn't to me. I couldn't have done it without the O-line, receivers, tight ends, fullback – the blocking unit, really. So it's a big accomplishment for me, but they should be just as proud.

Q: You've had quite the regular season with 1,084 rushing yards, 474 receiving yards, 1,558 total yards, 16 rushing touchdowns and 19 total touchdowns. You also rushed for at least 100 yards five times and posted six multi-touchdown games. Are you miffed in any way that you weren't selected to the initial NFC Pro Bowl squad? Does that matter to you all that much?

Jones: It mattered to me because you want to be a Pro Bowler. You think of the NBA All-Star Game, it's equivalent. The best of the best are playing in that, and you feel like you belong, you want your recognition. But I know at the end of the day, God has some bigger plan for me and my team. It wasn't only me who got snubbed. (Linebacker) Za'Darius (Smith) – a lot of guys. I could keep going on. But God has some bigger plan for us. We plan on playing somewhere else in Florida a couple weeks later. 

Q: You've rushed for 100-plus yards in three of your past four games. Why is the running game working so well right now for you and the offense?

Jones: We go as they (the offensive line) go. Without them, we can't really do anything. They're firing off that ball and giving us lanes to run. ... We're just able to play fast. It's easy. 

Q: You're 8-1 this season in games decided by eight points or less. How will playing in those games – and knowing how to win them – prove beneficial as you start preparing for the playoffs? Is resiliency the team's identity?

Jones: Yeah, I think that's a good thing to have, especially going into the playoffs. Most games have come down to one possession. A lot of games – you look across the NFL this year – the majority of them have come down to one possession, and a lot of them for us, as well. When we're in those one-possession games, we know what to do. We're executing. We're making those plays. So when it comes down to the stretch in the playoffs, we've been in those situations. We know what that looks like. We know what that feels like. And we're ready.

Q: You've played at a high level since taking over as the starting left guard. Meanwhile, the Packers finished the regular season 13-3 to sew up a first-round playoff bye. Has the individual and team success surpassed what you were expecting this season? Have you had any time to reflect on what you and the team have accomplished so far?

Jenkins: This being my first year, I really didn't know what to expect. But I knew the players we had, the playmakers we had on the offensive side of the ball and on the defensive side of the ball. So just like Coach said: Taking it one week at a time and just putting the next foot forward. That's what we've been about all year.

Q: David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley and Bryan Bulaga all became starters on the offensive line – and played at high levels – as rookies. How much have you leaned on those guys in your own transition to a starter since they know exactly what you're going through?

Jenkins: They've helped me out a lot. Me playing by "Bak" and playing by Corey, they help me out a lot. Just on the field, off the field. Things I can work on. (Bulaga) is always coming with great advice. Billy (Turner) is coming with great advice. A big shout-out to those guys in that room. Without them, I wouldn't be as successful as I am today.

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Contact Brett Christopherson at (920) 993-7117 or bchristopherson@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PCBrettC.