GREEN BAY, Wis. - Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday that running backs A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones need to get the ball more than they did in a season-opening defeat at Minnesota.
"We maybe reacted to the score a little bit," Rodgers said. "And we were running the ball well, I think we ran it about 6 a clip, so we’ve just got to stick with the run, make sure we get our attempts where we want them to be because that means one of those guys is touching the ball probably."
Jones and Dillon are Rodgers’ top playmakers now that two-time All-Pro receiver Davante Adams is with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Dillon had 10 carries for 45 yards and five catches for 46 yards at Minnesota. Jones had five carries for 49 yards plus three catches for 27 yards. Packers coach Matt LaFleur has emphasized the need to give them more opportunities.
Packers running back AJ Dillon runs onto the field against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 11, 2022. (FOX6 News Milwaukee)
"They’re two of our better players. I think everybody recognizes that," LaFleur said. "And they’re versatile. You can use them, whoever you want to put in the backfield, whether you put them both in the backfield, whether you put one at receiver, they provide us with some flexibility to do little different things from an offensive perspective."
The Packers must get more punch from their offense after posting their lowest scoring total since the 2021 season opener, which they lost 38-3 to the New Orleans Saints. They host the Chicago Bears (1-0) on Sunday night.
Packers wideouts caught a combined 12 passes for 120 yards at Minnesota. For comparison’s sake, Adams caught 10 passes for 141 yards in the Raiders’ season-opening 24-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Bears say any offense led by Rodgers remains dangerous even without Adams on the roster. The Packers are 23-5 against the Bears in games their four-time MVP has started. In one of the losses, Rodgers departed with an injury after the opening series.
"Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers regardless (of) who he has," Bears defensive end Robert Quinn said. "He’s bound to make something happen. I’m not in that locker room, but I’m sure because of his credentials, he tries to bring everyone up to his level regardless of if they’re a first-rounder or undrafted. Again, I’m not in that locker room. But I think he’s going to bring everyone up to his standards."
The dilemma for Rodgers is how to bring Green Bay’s rookie receivers up to that standard.
"We’ve got to be patient with them," Rodgers said. "The most important thing we’re going to be harping on is the preparation and the fundamentals and the little things. The jump happens when you don’t become a robot anymore. You understand the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ — why are we doing what we’re doing and what are we trying to accomplish? And it takes a while for anybody."
Romeo Doubs, the rookie fourth-round pick from Nevada, led Green Bay wideouts with four catches for 37 yards Sunday. Christian Watson, the second-round pick from North Dakota State, had two catches for 34 yards.
Allen Lazard, the Packers’ top returning receiver, was limited in practice Wednesday. He missed the Vikings game with an ankle injury.
Matt LaFleur looks on as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers face the Vikings on Sept. 11, 2022.
"Can’t predict the future," Lazard said about his chances of playing. "Probably is probably the best answer I could give you."
Green Bay’s top options at wide receiver are Lazard, Watson, Doubs and veteran Randall Cobb. Amari Rodgers, the 2021 third-round pick from Clemson, didn’t play a single snap on offense against the Vikings.
They Packers need to deal with whatever growing pains Watson and Doubs endure. That means trying to build their confidence as much as possible early on.
"We don’t want to put them in a position where there’s a high likelihood of maybe not getting it right," Rodgers said. "But we also want to let them, in the moment, feel the pressure and anxiety and the expectation of being in that moment and see how they respond because that’s how we’re going to know what kind of guys we’ve got."
"It’s a play that I know I can make, and I know I’m going to make a bunch of those down the road," Watson said. "My mentality is on to the next. Obviously net time it comes my way, I’ll capitalize on that."
Rodgers is eager to see how well his young receivers capitalize on their chances the next few weeks.
"The most important thing for a jump to happen is not repeat the same mistake twice," Rodgers said." These guys are going to make a lot of mistakes. The guys who don’t repeat the same mistakes are going to get more opportunities."