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5 things to know about new Packers RB Josh Jacobs

NFL’s rushing leader in 2022 coming to Green Bay

RB Josh Jacobs
RB Josh Jacobs

GREEN BAY – The Packers signed free agent running back Josh Jacobs to be their new No. 1 backfield threat.

Here are five things to know about Jacobs, who takes over for Aaron Jones as Green Bay's feature back:

  1. He was the NFL's rushing king two years ago.

In 2022, Jacobs rushed for a league-high 1,653 yards and a league-best 97.2 per game for the Raiders, averaging 4.9 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. The 5-10, 223-pound back was named first-team All-Pro and was named to his second Pro Bowl. It was the third 1,000-yard season of his career, and he just turned 26 last month.

His production fell off last year, to 805 yards and six TDs with a career-low 3.5 yards per carry, as the Raiders struggled offensively (27th in total yards, 23rd in points) and Jacobs missed the last four games of the season with a quad injury.

  1. He's been rather durable.

The quad injury that cost Jacobs the final month of 2023 is the most significant injury of his career. He had missed only six games in his first four NFL seasons before that.

Health-wise, he may have been helped by not being overused in college at Alabama. Over three seasons for the Crimson Tide (2016-18), he carried the ball 251 times and caught 48 passes for 299 total touches.

By contrast, he's had at least 260 touches in every NFL season, topping out at 393 (340 rushes, 53 receptions) in his All-Pro year of 2022.

  1. He made a big splash upon entering the league.

The Raiders chose Jacobs, who had just turned 21 two months before getting drafted, with the No. 24 overall pick in the first round in 2019. As a rookie, he rushed for 1,150 yards and seven TDs, making the PFWA All-Rookie Team and finishing second in the voting for Offensive Rookie of the Year to Cardinals QB Kyler Murray.

He followed that up with 1,065 yards and 12 TDs in 2020 for his first Pro Bowl honor.

Green Bay's new RB Josh Jacobs steps out to see Lambeau Field for the first time as a Packers player.

  1. He played against the Packers twice and has one rather strange career statistic.

During Jacobs' all-rookie season in 2019, he rushed 21 times for 124 yards in Week 7 at Lambeau Field in a 42-24 Packers victory. His day included a 42-yard run on his third carry to set up a Raiders field goal on the opening possession of the game.

The Packers saw Jacobs again last season in a Week 5 Monday night game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Emblematic of the Raiders' offensive struggles, he managed just 69 yards on 20 carries despite Green Bay having allowed 200-plus rushing yards in two of the previous three games.

He did break off a 24-yard run to open a drive late in the third quarter and then finished that possession with a 2-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Raiders the lead for good, 17-13.

He also had eight pass receptions in his two games against the Packers, which brings up this odd statistic: Despite being consistently productive as a pass catcher out of the backfield over his five-year career – averaging nearly 40 receptions and just under 300 yards per year, with 7.4 yards per catch – Jacobs has yet to score a receiving TD in his pro career. He had five receiving TDs over his last two collegiate seasons.

  1. He came from humble beginnings.

Jacobs described his rather hardscrabble upbringing in Tulsa, Okla., in an article he wrote for the Players’ Tribune that was posted on his draft day in 2019. In it, he recounted stories of living out of backpacks, sleeping in his dad's Suburban and dodging gunshots.

After light recruitment early, his favorite childhood team, Alabama, entered the picture and he wound up there instead of Wyoming, where he'd planned to go as late as two weeks before signing day.

His college career concluded impressively, with Jacobs earning game MVP honors in the SEC Championship triumph over Georgia with eight carries for 83 yards and two TDs – all with the flu. He followed that up with 158 yards from scrimmage (98 rushing, 60 receiving) and a TD in the national semifinal win over Oklahoma before Alabama lost the title game to Clemson.

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