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Jamaal Williams spent last week at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where he talked with NFL hopefuls who played in the pre-draft all-star game.

They asked the Green Bay Packers rookie for advice on how to prepare for the draft and what it takes to make in the NFL.

But the running back, a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, couldn’t stop thinking about the advice he was given before he left Green Bay after the season. It was in his exit interviews with running backs coach Ben Sirmans and coach Mike McCarthy that the Packers’ leading rusher this past season learned what he needs to take his game to the next level.

“We were just in agreement that I’ve got to get my feet quicker and just get a little more speed happening and make sure that my knees are up,” Williams said in a phone interview during a break in the NFLPA-sponsored college all-star game near Los Angeles.

“So, I’m just going to be working on my lateral movements, speed, make sure I get my knees up, make sure my lower body’s a lot stronger.”

That will begin this week near Phoenix, where he plans to train with his uncle, Luke Neal, who also works with Cardinals linebacker Scooby Wright.

Yes, Williams rushed for a team-best 556 yards in a season in which he finally stopped the revolving door at running back. But he did so in grind-it-out fashion, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry.

He knows that Ty Montgomery will return next season after wrist surgery that landed him on season-ending injured reserve and that fellow rookie Aaron Jones will be over his two knee injuries that cost him four games this season. That means that just because he was the Packers’ leading rusher in 2017 doesn’t mean he is guaranteed anything for 2018.

“I learned that on every team, no matter what, everybody’s a superstar, and you’ve got weapons,” Williams said. “Everybody’s got to touch the ball. There’s just so many superstars, especially on my team with Aaron [Rodgers], Davante [Adams], Jordy [Nelson], Randall [Cobb]. We just spread the ball around.

“When you’re in college, you’re used to, like, two guys — two superstars — on the team who get the ball consistently. I liked it because it just shows that you’ve got to keep working hard, and every year there’s going to be a new batch coming in, so you’ve got to make sure you improve every offseason.”

But there won’t likely be many — if any — new running backs. The position appears stocked after former general manager Ted Thompson picked three in last year’s draft: Williams (at No. 134 overall from BYU), Jones (at No. 182 from UTEP) and seldom-used Devante Mays (at No. 238 from Utah State).

It’s another reason Williams knows that he needs to be more explosive. Yes, he gained more than half of his yards after contact (51.8 percent to be exact), according to ESPN Stats & Information. By comparison, NFL rushing leader Kareem Hunt got 47.9 percent of his yards after first contact, and second-leading rusher Todd Gurley gained just 39.8 percent of his yards after initial contact.

But as tough as Williams proved to be — he was the only Packers running back who didn’t miss a game this season — he lacked big plays. Of his 153 carries, he had only five explosive runs, defined by McCarthy as a gain of 12 or more yards.

By comparison, the speedier Jones had 10 explosive rushes despite carrying only 81 times.

“It just comes with time and repetition,” Williams said. “I felt like I was getting better and better at it as the season went by. So next year, it really won’t be anything new to me. I’ll just be able to come in and start where I left off.”

It was at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl that Williams signed hundreds of rookie trading cards that will be included in the 2017-18 Panini football card packets. Williams was supposed to sign over the course of a couple of days. Instead, he decided to get it all done at once in a four-hour, hand-cramping session.

“That’s the warrior mentality of playing football,” Williams said.

It helped Williams ride things out when Montgomery began the season as the starter and then Jones got the next shot. It wasn’t until both were injured in Week 10 against the Bears that Williams got his shot to be the No. 1 back, a job he didn’t give up the rest of the season.

“When Aaron and Ty went down, and they were like, ‘Jamaal, you’re going to run the ball,’ I was like, ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment, and I’m going to go out there and do what I need to do,’” Williams said. “That, for me, made me feel like all my hard work is paying off.”

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Their first four draft picks were designed to help the struggling defense, but the Green Bay Packers got their biggest rookie impact from two of the three running backs they selected on the final day.

Here’s a breakdown of the Packers’ 2017 draft class:

Grade: Below average.

Best rookie: Fourth-round pick Jamaal Williams was the workhorse running back, while fifth-rounder Aaron Jones provided the explosive change. Williams led the Packers in both carries (153) and rushing yards (556), but his average of 3.6 yards per carry suggests he’s more of a plodder. He also might be the more capable back in the passing game, both as a receiver and a blocker. Jones, despite a pair of knee injuries, showed more big-play ability. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry on just 81 attempts (448 yards) and matched Williams with four touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime against Tampa Bay to help the Packers stay alive in the playoff race at the time. Both had at least one 100-yard rushing game, and this duo looks more promising than opening-day starter Ty Montgomery as the future of the Packers’ backfield.

Most improved rookie: This one has to go to an undrafted rookie, punter Justin Vogel. He looked shaky in training camp but progressed as the season went along. He set the franchise record for net punting average (41.6), although a relatively mild weather season at home helped. Still, this spot should be solidified for next season.

Most disappointing rookie: Throughout the offseason practices, Josh Jones was seemingly around the ball at every turn. But the second-round pick couldn’t carry that over when it mattered. He bounced between safety and inside linebacker in the Packers’ nitro package, but other than the overtime interception in Cleveland that set up the game-winning score, he struggled in coverage most of the season. This was a classic case of a player who looked good in helmets and shorts but struggled when the pads came on. Top pick Kevin King also could be thrown into this category, but as cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said during the season, no one saw the real King because when he played, he was limited by a shoulder injury that eventually ended his season and required surgery.

Jury is still out on …: Montravius Adams and Vince Biegel. Both missed the early part of the season because of injuries. Adams, the third-round defensive tackle, broke his foot during the opening week of training camp and played in only one of the first seven games. Biegel, the fourth-round outside linebacker, had foot surgery in May and missed the entire offseason, training camp, the preseason and the first seven games of the regular season. The Packers hoped Adams would bolster their run defense and Biegel would provide some pass rush. Neither happened.

Undrafted rookie evaluation: The most promising undrafted rookie didn’t even see the field until Week 16. Receiver Michael Clark, a 6-foot-6 former college basketball player, caught four passes for 41 yards in the final two games combined. Yes, he struggled with drops, but his length and athletic ability make him a player to watch next summer after he has had a full year to refine his skills. Cornerback Lenzy Pipkins also looks like he might have potential.

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At this point, it might be easier to list who’s still on the Green Bay Packers coaching staff rather than who isn’t.

After major changes on both sides of the ball, here’s how things look now under coach Mike McCarthy, who is under contract through the 2019 season after he signed a one-year extension late last year:

OFFENSE

Coordinator: Position open.

Edgar Bennett was removed on Wednesday. It’s possible Bennett could return in a lesser capacity, but his three-year run as a non-playcalling coordinator is over. Top candidates include former Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, former Giants coach Ben McAdoo and current offensive line coach James Campen.

Quarterbacks: Open.

Alex Van Pelt’s contract expired after this season, and he was not retained. Van Pelt spoke late in the season about his desire to once again serve as an offensive coordinator, which he did for the Bills in 2009. Van Pelt and Aaron Rodgers worked well together, but fill-in quarterback Brett Hundley was not consistent enough after Rodgers broke his collarbone. Offensive perimeter coach David Raih worked closely with the quarterbacks this season, but Rodgers might rather have someone with NFL playing experience like Van Pelt did.

Receivers: Open

Luke Getsy, known as the coach who introduced juggling and other tricks to the receivers in his two seasons on the job, left to become the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State. If Bennett stays on staff, he could go back to coaching receivers like he did from 2011-14.

Offensive line: Position filled

Campen is a top-five offensive line coach in the NFL. He also is essentially the run-game coordinator. He developed middle-round draft picks like David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley into players at the top of their position, and is extremely popular among his players. He’s the Packers’ longest-tenured assistant coach, dating to 2004, but this job could open if Campen becomes coordinator either in Green Bay or elsewhere.

Assistant offensive line: Filled

Jeff Blasko, considered a rising star, finished his first season as Campen’s assistant.

Running backs: Filled

Ben Sirmans completed his second season with the Packers, and helped develop rookies Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones into the top two backs on the roster. Sirmans’ teaching background served him well, and he’s well-liked among players and staff.

Tight ends: Filled

Brian Angelichio has held this job for two seasons after coaching tight ends in Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Whoever becomes the new general manager needs to address the talent level here this offseason after the Martellus Bennett signing failed.

Offensive perimeter: Filled

McCarthy created this position for Raih last offseason but never really defined his role. He appeared to spend more time with the quarterbacks than the receivers.

DEFENSE

Coordinator: Open

Dom Capers survived Colin Kaepernick running for 181 yards against his defense in 2012, the NFC title game meltdown in 2014, Larry Fitzgerald carving it up in overtime in the 2015 playoff loss and a No. 31 ranking in passing defense in 2016. But his nine-year run came to an end this week, when McCarthy fired him. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and safeties coach Darren Perry likely are the top two internal candidates, but expect McCarthy to interview Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and other experienced coordinators.

Defensive line: Open

Despite developing Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark into bona fide three-down players, Mike Trgovac was out after nine seasons. Some thought he could be a candidate for defensive coordinator, a job he held with the Panthers from 2003-08. Assistant D-line coach Jerry Montgomery could be in line to replace Trgovac.

Inside linebackers: Open

This was one of the more surprising moves given that under Scott McCurley, second-year linebacker Blake Martinez led the league in tackles. McCurley had only two other players at his position group – Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas. McCurley had been with the Packers since 2007.

Outside linebackers: Filled (for now)

This job, held by associate head coach/defense Winston Moss, also could open soon. Indications are the Packers might move on from Moss even if he doesn’t get another job. He reportedly is on the Lions’ list of head-coaching candidates. Moss has been with the Packers since 2006, McCarthy’s first season as coach.

Safeties: Filled

Perry has deep ties to Capers; he played for the Steelers and Capers was his defensive coordinator. He came to Green Bay with Capers in 2009. He’s one of the internal candidates to replace Capers. Unlike Moss, there’s a good chance Perry remains with the team no matter what.

Cornerbacks: Filled

The young and energetic Whitt might be just what the Packers need in a coordinator. He’s tough on players, but they respect him. Whitt joined the Packers in 2008, one year before Capers arrived. He’s viewed as the leading internal candidate to replace his former boss.

Defensive front assistant: Filled

Jerry Montgomery was a highly successful college coach and recruiter before he took his first NFL job in 2015 with the Packers. He’s the likely replacement for Trgovac.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Coordinator: Filled

Ron Zook, the former college head coach at Florida and Illinois, completed his third season in charge of the Packers’ special teams. He replaced Shawn Slocum, who was fired after the 2014 season (a year in which Zook served as his assistant).

Assistant: Filled

Jason Simmons has been with the Packers since 2011 and in this spot since 2015. Zook relies heavily on Simmons.

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You don’t have to agree with it — and you probably won’t — but Mike McCarthy dove deeper into his explanation for the 57-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter of Sunday night’s loss at Pittsburgh.

The Green Bay Packers’ coach called the right decision at the time and hindsight did nothing to change his viewpoint.

“I don’t really understand the criticism of it,” McCarthy said a day later.

McCarthy was aware of the fact that Chris Boswell’s game-winning 53-yard field goal tied for the longest kick ever made at Heinz Field, but the Packers have their own formula for determining the kick-or-punt line.

“Our process is the same each and every game,” McCarthy said. “We have a structured pregame routine. There’s information that’s gathered. We have a challenge here in our own stadium.

“If I’m guilty of anything, I’ve got great confidence in Mason Crosby. But no, I don’t second-guess. We had a chance to go up two scores.”

The Packers had a 21-14 lead at the time when they took over at the Steelers’ 45-yard line following Blake Martinez’s interception. After three runs by Jamaal Williams put the Packers into field goal range at the 31-yard line, Brett Hundley was sacked on first down, threw incomplete on second down and was sacked again on third down, pushing the ball back to the 39-yard line, where McCarthy sent in the field goal unit.

“The first-, second- and third-down things leading up to the field goal I’m more upset about than anything,” McCarthy said. “What went on in those, particularly the two [sack] plays, that’s where my focus is because that’s correctable. But if I was in that spot again, based on all the information going into that decision, it’s the right call. We’re playing against — we’re on the road, we’re playing against — I mean, the big three of that offense [Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell]. Let’s be honest, that’s as good a trio of players as we’ve played against all year. We need the points.”

When asked whether the 57-yarder was within the range Crosby was comfortable with in pregame warmups, special-teams coordinator Ron Zook said: “Right about there.”

“One thing about Mason now [he would say], ‘Put the ball down and let’s kick it,’” Zook added. “If you talk to Mason, he’s got to hit that. You get into a game, where we are in the season, I think if Mason had to do it over again, he’d hit it. The snap was a little high, but, still, Justin [Vogel] got it down there. Shoot, you’ve got to have points and he’s got to hit it.”

Crosby missed badly to the left, giving the Steelers the ball at their own 47-yard line. Had the Packers punted, they had the chance to pin the Steelers deep in their own territory. With favorable field position, the Steelers needed only six plays to go the 53 yards to tie the game on the first of two touchdown catches by Brown.

“I’m trying to gain momentum,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think you can think like that, you know? … You have to decide how you’re going to play the game, and the reality of it is that gets you started. But there’s things that go on during the course of the game, there’s constant communication going on there based on where we were playing, how we were playing and what was going on in all three phases. You have to go for the points there if you have the faith in your kicker based on the kicks he hit in pregame and everything leading up to that. Really, if we were at fault, it was the two negative plays on first and third down.”

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The last time the Green Bay Packers were a two-touchdown underdog, they were going to New England in 2010 without a concussed Aaron Rodgers.

Coach Mike McCarthy refused to believe it, saying at the time that they were “nobody’s underdogs.”

And he was nearly spot on. Behind Matt Flynn, the Packers put up a much stronger fight than anyone thought and lost 31-27. A week later, Rodgers returned to an 8-6 football team, the Packers won their last two regular-season games and went on to win the Super Bowl as a wild-card team.

There were no such proclamations from McCarthy before Sunday night’s game at Pittsburgh, where the Steelers were 14-point favorites, yet the result was similar to that night in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

On the game’s final play, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell won it, 31-28, with a 53-yard field goal.

The problem is, Rodgers isn’t coming back next week.

Or the week after.

Even though Rodgers went through a throwing workout before the game at Heinz Field — whipping at least one pass more than 50 yards in the air — he’s stuck on injured reserve for at least two more weeks. He could return to practice this coming week but can’t play this coming Sunday against Tampa Bay or the following week at Cleveland.

Even if the Packers (5-6) can win the next two, they might be too far out of the playoff picture when Rodgers is eligible to return in Week 15 at Carolina.

The Packers stayed in this game with a seemingly simple formula, yet one that had been hard to come by since Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6. McCarthy called a tough-to-defend combination of screen passes and deep balls for Brett Hundley, stayed committed to running back Jamaal Williams (21 carries for 66 yards with a rushing and receiving touchdown) and finally got some takeaways from his defense — three of them to be exact.

Considering the quality of the opponent, it was Hundley’s best showing to date with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 134.3 passer rating.

The only thing the Packers could be faulted for was the decision to try a 57-yard field goal midway through the third quarter while clinging to a 21-14 lead. It sailed away wide left, giving the Steelers favorable field position, which they turned into Ben Roethlisberger’s 1-yard fade to Antonio Brown over Kevin King for a tying touchdown.

Had McCarthy elected to punt, perhaps the Packers could have flipped the field position in their favor. Instead, the Steelers took over at Packers’ 47-yard line to set up an easy scoring drive.

At that point Hundley, who had already thrown three touchdown passes — one more than he had in his entire career entering Sunday night’s game — reverted to more of the quarterback he was the week before, when the Packers were shut out by the Ravens at Lambeau Field. Following the missed field goal, Hundley and the offense went three-and-out on the next two possessions.

Still, Hundley went score for score with Ben Roethlisberger, tying the game with 2:02 left thanks to a clutch drive until Antonio Brown burned the Packers with a sideline catch akin to the one former Packers tight end Jared Cook made in Dallas last year in the playoffs to set up the game-winning field goal.

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Fumble, fumble, rush for 1 yard, ankle injury.

Talk about a disaster of an NFL debut.

That was Green Bay Packers rookie running back Devante Mays’ line from his first chance to play from scrimmage in Sunday’s shutout loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The bum ankle, which was revealed when he showed up on Wednesday’s injury report, added injury to insult.

The thing is, the Packers might need him again this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers are likely to be without their top-two running backs again this week. Leading rusher Aaron Jones (ankle) injury is out for sure, while the No. 2 man Ty Montgomery (ribs) did not practice again on Wednesday.

That leaves Jamaal Williams as the starter and Mays as the backup — if coach Mike McCarthy can trust him, that is. McCarthy admitted after the game he “lost confidence” in Mays.

“I’ve just got to show them that they can count on me,” Mays said Wednesday. “I know that they were counting on me, and I didn’t step up like I wanted to. This game, I’m going to do a better job of that.”

It was all new territory for Mays, the fumbling and the questions that inevitably followed. After the game, he sat shell-shocked in his locker and declined to answer questions.

The seventh-round pick finally was ready to address it three days after he fumbled on his first two NFL carries. Mays said he never fumbled in his two years at Utah State, where he carried 202 times. As a pro, he has two fumbles (one lost) in three carries.

“The first time, it was just not knowing the play, really, what the play was,” Mays said. “It was just everything wasn’t right on that, and then second time it was just my fault. I’ve just got to put two hands on the ball, and I know that it’s my job to take care of the ball. Just got to do a better job at that.”

Mays said he thought the first play was a handoff but instead it was a toss play, so he was off kilter from the start.

“Initially I went down when I was supposed to be going out for the toss, so that’s what happened with that one,” he said. “It was a mistake on my part with the handoff. Because if I would’ve took the right path, I wouldn’t have been there, and it wouldn’t have happened. The guy got his arm in there. And the second one, I really don’t know what happened there.”

After the game, Mays received consolation from Jones and several other players but sat in his locker with his uniform on while most other players had already showered and changed.

“Like after, I was just shocked,” Mays said. “I couldn’t believe it happened.”

Mays was back on the practice field Wednesday, although he was a limited participant because of the ankle injury.

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Aaron Jones promised that he won’t get himself into legal trouble again and insisted that he will play again this season.

In his first public comments since the news broke Monday of his arrest last month, the Green Bay Packers rookie running back offered a statement on the matter and requested that questions be limited to football matters.

Jones was charged with operating a vehicle with a controlled substance (marijuana) in his system, speeding (24 mph over the posted speed limit of 55) and operating a vehicle without a valid license stemming from an Oct. 1 traffic stop.

I owe an apology to my family, teammates, coaches, the fans and the Packers organization,” Jones said. “I made a mistake, and I take full responsibility for it. And it won’t happen again. I can’t speak on it because it’s an ongoing legal matter. Do you have any football questions?”

Jones did not play in Sunday’s 23-0 loss to the Ravens because of the left knee injury he suffered the previous week against the Bears. Jones has a sprained MCL and is expected to miss three to six weeks, a timeline that would get close to the end of the season if it’s on the long end, but he said he was convinced he would return this year.

“Definitely,” he said when asked if he would play again this season.

Jones said he has experience with this same injury but to his right knee during his sophomore season at UTEP and returned without missing significant time. The fifth-round pick is the Packers’ leading rusher with 370 yards on 70 carries with three touchdowns.

Without Jones and Ty Montgomery (ribs), the Packers turned to fourth-round pick Jamaal Williams and seventh-rounder Devante Mays against the Ravens. Williams followed a 20-carry, 67-yard game against the Bears after Jones and Montgomery went down with 18 carries for 57 yards against Baltimore.

Mays played for the first time from scrimmage, and it was disastrous. He fumbled on his first two carries and finished with just three carries for minus-1 yard. Mays refused to talk after Sunday’s loss and did not talk to reporters on Monday, either.

“I just told him, ‘Keep his head up, it’s not the start you wanted,” Jones said. “But hey, people have bad starts. … [Chiefs rookie] Kareem Hunt fumbled on his first carry and look what he’s doing. Just keep your head up, don’t get down and don’t listen to what anybody else has to say. You know your ability. I know your ability and you’re a better player than that.’”

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Devante Mays doesn’t need to look any further than his own position group to understand how an NFL player must keep himself ready to play even when he’s not playing.Fellow Green Bay Packers rookie running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have excelled at doing that, and it might be Mays’ turn this week.

Jones was inactive for Week 1, didn’t touch the ball until Week 4 and is now the team’s leading rusher. Williams began the season as the backup and then slipped to No. 3 on the depth chart only to find himself as the No. 1 back again last Sunday after Jones hurt his knee and Ty Montgomery reinjured his broken ribs.

With Jones out 3-6 weeks and Montgomery’s status up in the air this week, Mays could be the primary backup to Williams on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. It’s a big jump for a player who has been inactive four times this season and has yet to play on offense let alone actually carry the ball.

“I think it’s important for all your young guys to get ready,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s tough. You make the team, then you’re not getting the reps with the game-plan reps getting ready for games. Next thing you know, you’re in there. He’ll be ready. Jamaal is definitely ready, and we’re going to need everybody, especially in that room.”

If nothing else, Mays should play a significant role on special teams since Williams likely will be taken off those units to save him for his work on offense. Williams, who rushed for 67 yards on 20 carries against the Bears, was given a game ball — but it was for his play on special teams.

“Obviously, he probably won’t get quite as many reps now because the running back situation, but that’s what it is,” special teams coach Ron Zook said of Williams. “That’s the National Football League, and the way it is. You’ve got to have the next guy up. Like I told Mays, I said, ‘Hey, now it’s going to hopefully be your job, your turn to do the same thing next week.’”

The Packers drafted three running backs — Williams in the fourth round, Jones in the fifth and Mays in the seventh — after the position was riddled with injuries last year, which prompted Montgomery’s switch from receiver. General manager Ted Thompson kept all three on the roster even though their production in the preseason was minimal. Williams averaged just 2.4 yards per carry and Mays 2.7 in the preseason. Only Jones, at 5.5 yards per rush, showed much.

With Montgomery’s status up in the air — McCarthy said he’s hopeful that he will be available this week but wouldn’t know for sure until he seems if he can practice — the Packers could be looking at a Williams-Mays running back combination, which is why Mays must be ready.

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Bryan Bulaga sustained a season-ending knee injury in Monday night’s loss to the Detroit Lions, ensuring the Green Bay Packers’ preferred offensive line will have played together for less than a full game all year.

Bulaga suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, ESPN confirmed on Tuesday. NFL Network was first to report that the 28-year-old, eighth-year veteran tore his ACL. That’s what the Packers feared immediately after the game, when coach Mike McCarthy said the team’s medical staff “seemed very concerned about it.”

Speaking Tuesday, McCarthy called it “tough” to hear about the injury.

“Bad news on Bryan Bulaga,” the coach said. “It’s very unfortunate. He will be lost for the season with his knee injury. He’s had a stretch of bad luck this year. It started with the ankle injury there in training camp. I feel bad for him. I thought he had clearly come off his best season last year.”

Monday’s game was just the second time all season that the Packers had all five of their top offensive linemen together. The first time was in Week 6 at Minnesota, but it lasted for only 15 plays before left guard Lane Taylor sustained an ankle injury. The group played together for 42 snaps against the Lions before Bulaga had to be helped off the field and carted to the locker room.

The Packers (4-4) have started seven different offensive line combinations in eight games this season.

Bulaga missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL in his left knee. This injury is believed to be to his right knee.

Earlier this year, Bulaga suffered a sprained right ankle in training camp and missed the first two games of the regular season. He returned for Week 3 but couldn’t make it through that game, either. He returned for Week 5.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari missed four games because of a hamstring injury. Only center Corey Linsley and right guard Jahri Evans have played in every game.

Even Bulaga’s replacement on Monday night, first-year pro Justin McCray, got hurt against the Lions. He rolled an ankle on the final play of the game — a 1-yard touchdown run by Jamaal Williams on an untimed down after a defensive penalty with no time on the clock extended the game.

Last week, the Packers used one of their two injured reserve/designated to return spots on backup tackle Jason Spriggs, who injured his hamstring on a special teams play in Week 1. They’re saving the other for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who could return from his broken collarbone no earlier than Week 15. Spriggs, however, is not eligible to play until after Sunday’s game at Chicago. Another tackle, Kyle Murphy, is on injured reserve after undergoing foot surgery and will not play again this season.

Also Tuesday, safety Morgan Burnett was ruled out of Sunday’s game at Chicago because of the groin injury he suffered last night against the Lions.

“I don’t have a timeline for you,” McCarthy said. “But he will not be available this week against Chicago.”

 

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Everything has happened so fast. It seems like only yesterday Aaron Jones  was a healthy scratch during the Packers’ season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

However, opportunity knocked last month against the Chicago Bears and Jones answered the call after Ty Montgomery  and Jamaal Williams  exited due to injury.

Before the game, Alvin Jr. joked with his brother about making sure his first NFL carry went for a touchdown. Although that didn’t happen – Aaron gained four yards on the play – he ran hard en route to 49 yards on 13 carries.

A week later, Jones started his first NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys. His parents, friends and family made the trip to Arlington as Jones rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown in a 35-31 victory, earning him NFL rookie of the week honors.

Back at UTEP, Alvin Jr. watched the game with teammates between meetings and weightlifting.

“It was just crazy watching it on TV,” Alvin Jr. said. “We’re watching it in the locker room and everyone is just going crazy. The Cowboys were our favorite team growing up and he got to do it there in front of everybody, all of our family.”

Jones has compiled the fourth-most rushing yards (297) since Week 5 and sits behind only Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman with a first-down run percentage of 27.4 percent. His 5.6 yards per carry ranks third in the NFL among backs with at least 6.25 carries per game.

Alvin Sr. and Vurgess have been there for all of it. It’s required some pinpoint planning on Vurgess’ part, but the couple also has made it to all seven of Alvin Jr.’s games at UTEP without a hitch.

“It’s just knowing we always have a support system,” Alvin Jr. said. “We always have someone to talk to no matter what or no matter where we go to. We’re going to have someone at our games supporting us, even if we’re in New York or wherever.”

Aaron admits having family in town the week of the Saints game was good for his soul. With his mom arriving Wednesday and twin brother flying in Thursday, Jones couldn’t wait to show them around his new home in Green Bay.

The opportunity to take a photo with his brother during pregame warmups also made it a moment he’ll never forget. The two have been around the world together and served as each other’s biggest motivators.

Now, they were there to watch Aaron play on one of football’s most cherished fields.

“It was really special,” Aaron said. “We talked before the game, after the game. He was excited he got to see some of the players. It’s always a treat when I get to have my brother here. I just feel complete.”

After the game, Alvin Jr. told Aaron “you look like you belong out there” before adding in a joking manner that he appeared a “little slow” on the 46-yard touchdown run.

Dismissed for the Packers’ bye week, Jones returned home to El Paso this week. He even joined Alvin during a visit at a local hospital, trying to lift the spirits of patients and giving gifts to children.

Statistics measure success, but it’s that image of their children giving back that brings a smile to the faces of Alvin Sr. and Vurgess.

The two have traveled the world together and seen everything there is to see, but there’s no place they’d rather be right now than in the stands every Saturday and Sunday watching their sons live out their dreams.

“What I’ve told Aaron and Alvin, this is a reward for all the hard work that you guys have put in,” Alvin Sr. said. “What mom and I always try to do with them, even now, is make sure they understand why they’re successful. That, first and foremost, is the blessing from the man wupstairs. Secondly, we try to keep them humble and working hard. No matter how much success you have, there’s always something you can improve so continue to work hard, stay humble and good things will always happen for you.”