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Josh Jacobs eager to play 'in the games that really matter'

Packers’ new RB1 wants to leave a legacy in Green Bay

RB Josh Jacobs
RB Josh Jacobs

GREEN BAY – It's an impressive ledger.

Second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, two Pro Bowls, three 1,000-yard seasons, a first-team All-Pro selection and an NFL rushing title.

Those are running back Josh Jacobs' accomplishments over five seasons with the Raiders. But now that he's in Green Bay as a prized free agent stepping in for departed star and fan favorite Aaron Jones, Jacobs is eyeing different sorts of goals.

"I've never really played playoff football," he said last week following an OTA practice. "For me, especially as the (feature) back, I feel like you prove yourself in the games that really matter.

"In the biggest moments, in the biggest games, that's where you leave your mark."

For the record, Jacobs did get one playoff shot with the Raiders, but it ended as soon as it started, in the 2021 AFC Wild Card game at eventual Super Bowl participant Cincinnati. He racked up 127 yards from scrimmage (13 carries, 83 yards; four receptions, 44 yards), but the Raiders' potential game-tying drive died near the goal line in the final minute.

So he was attracted to joining forces with a Packers team that made a surprise postseason run last season and is viewed as up-and-coming. A lucrative contract offer didn't hurt, either, after playing on the franchise tag his final year with the Raiders. But he feels he's gone from a franchise with so much "uncertainty" via constant coaching changes to one that's "stable" and on the rise.

He sees Jordan Love as "legit the next superstar quarterback in this league" surrounded by a combination of proven veterans, like himself, and hungry youth, especially at receiver and tight end. All in a football-only locale like Green Bay, which he calls "peaceful" and reminds him of his roots in Oklahoma and college days at Alabama, representing the farthest of NFL cries from the glitz, glamor and distractions of Las Vegas.

"When you've got a young group that wants to make a name for themselves, you've got a group of guys that's got a little edge, and they're willing to listen and willing to do a little bit more, a little bit extra than normal," he said. "I think that's just the special thing about this place."

He also feels he could do something special in Head Coach Matt LaFleur's offense, which emphasizes diverse concepts for running backs – lining up wide, shifting to two-back sets, and scheming to get matchups in space.

At 5-10, 223, Jacobs is a more powerful back than Jones and built in the prototypical bell-cow mold, but he's expecting to be used in a variety of ways much like Jones was.

"I think he's a fit in any offense," LaFleur said. "His running style, he runs extremely hard. He's really tough to take down. He's got great hands out of the backfield.

"He's a great teammate, great leader."

He takes the leadership part to heart, too. That's why it's bothered him that he's been sitting out (or been significantly limited) thus far in OTAs with a hamstring issue.

It's nothing serious, and he considers himself better than 90% healthy right now, but the Packers are taking the cautious approach. Jacobs' desire to set an on-field example for the young cast of characters around him may have to wait for now, but it's a responsibility he relishes, and one he learned when former Packers All-Pro receiver Davante Adams joined the Raiders a couple of years ago.

That's when he saw "a player be great on a day-to-day basis," and he's eager to show that himself in Green Bay.

"Sometimes you see the end result, but you don't see the work it takes to get there," Jacobs said. "Trying to be a leader on this team with this young group, I feel like you've got to show and prove a certain mentality, certain demeanor and certain work ethic for a lot of guys that want to take that next step."

For Jacobs, it's all with chances at postseason glory in mind down the road.

"All the guys are young, so there's a lot of room for improvement, and they were right there on the cusp," he said. "Hopefully I can come in and add my little spin.

"Being able to leave a legacy is something that I think about now, being older. Playing playoff football and obviously trying to get a ring is the only thing that's really on my mind."

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