2018 Position Preview - Packers Running Backs Ready and Steady
Heading into training camp, no position on offense is as settled as running back. The Packers return three significant contributors to the position this year and have added no one of significance, leaving the group positioned roughly the same as it was 12 months ago.
If there is any difference, it’s experience. Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones are in their second NFL season having both played significant roles at times last year. Ty Montgomery, meanwhile, returns for a contract year. All three of these players should benefit from the seasoning that comes with time at the most physically demanding skill position in football.
Behind them, Devante Mays and Joel Bouagnon offer unique skill sets that could be of interest to the Packers if one of the top three backs go down.
At fullback, Aaron Ripkowski and Joe Kerridge both return for another camp. Ripkowski’s impact was diminished in 2017 (just five carries) and Kerridge is a special teams only player, but both are known quantities, no small benefit on a roster with more than a few unknowns.
All things considered, the Packers should find themselves enjoying their best equipped backfield since at least 2013, Eddie Lacy’s rookie season.
Just the basics
Jamaal Williams - 6-0, 213 - BYU - 2nd season
Aaron Jones - 5-9, 208 - UTEP - 2nd season
Ty Montgomery - 6-0, 216 - Stanford - 4th season
Davante Mays - 5-10, 230 - Utah State - 2nd season
Joel Bouagnon - 6-2, 230 - Northern Illinois - 1st season
Aaron Ripkowski - 6-1, 246 - Oklahoma - 4th season
Joe Kerridge - 6-0, 245 - Michigan - 3rd season
Who has to be good?
Though the “bell cow” back is a thing of the past, Jamaal Williams is as close as the Packers will get this year to having one main running back. With Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones periodically banged up last year and Brett Hundley doing Brett Hundley things, Williams carried a lot of the offensive load on his broad shoulders.
This year, with Jones on the shelf for two games due to suspension and Montgomery still an injury question mark, Williams will have to be a reliable option for the Packers again. If he can continue to be a capable, dependable back, the Packers’ running game will be in good hands.
Who is the wild card?
Ty Montgomery has been effective in a variety of roles in his short NFL career, his promise as a prospect has still vastly outstripped his production. Injuries and illness have kept Montgomery on the sideline for about 40% of the games in his career so far. If he can stay healthy this year, Montgomery could be a big contributor once again, but his health is as big of a question mark as anything in the Packers’ backfield.
Who could be a sleeper?
If there’s a forgotten man among the Packers’ running backs, it’s probably Devante Mays. To say he had a disastrous rookie season is an enormous understatement, at least on offense. A fixture on special teams. Mays produced more fumbles (2) than yards from scrimmage (1) in seven total touches in 2017. If he makes the roster this season, Mays surely can’t do worse than that.