GREEN BAY – Aaron Jones summed up the value of the playoff bye in three words.
“You get fresh,” the Packers’ star running back said Thursday.
Jones hasn’t been on the injury report or anything, but avoiding a couple dozen hits he was sure to take in a wild-card opener was welcome. Running back is a brutal position, so any break from the punishment – from defenders, from winter turf, from whatever – is savored.
Strangely, though, Jones felt his body didn’t actually “need” the bye heading into Sunday’s NFC Divisional matchup vs. Seattle.
Even though he had tied his career high with 23 carries in Week 16 at Minnesota, and then topped it with 25 in Week 17 at Detroit (plus two receptions each game, for a total of 52 touches and 303 yards from scrimmage over two contests), Jones wasn’t begging for the break.
“It was weird because I wasn’t really sore after that (Detroit) game,” he said. “I took some shots and I was expecting to be sore, because it was one of the more physical games I’ve played in this past year, and I was good.”
If there’s anything that serves as a subtle feather in Jones’ cap following a monster regular season, it’s that. He played all 16 games, handled the steadily increasing workload was thrown at him, and is absolutely primed for whatever the playoffs bring.
Credit a meticulous routine that featured multiple weekly visits to both a “body guy” as well as a chiropractor, but also credit Jones’ quiet resolve. After missing a total of eight games over his first two NFL seasons, mostly due to knee injuries, Jones was determined heading into Year 3 to suit up for every game and line up for every play he was asked to, and he achieved it.
“I take a lot of pride in it,” Jones said. “Availability is one of the biggest things here and in the league. If you’re not available, then you’re no good pretty much. I made it one of my goals to play 16 games – well, 16-plus, I want to keep going and stay healthy.
“That was one of my goals, to put all the doubters and the naysayers, and everybody saying he’s injury prone and he’s this and he’s that, to bed. It’s a good feeling.”