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Seventh-round snub continues to fuel Kylin Hill

Packers’ rushing offense bounces back against New York Jets

RB Kylin Hill dives into the end zone on a 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of the Packers' 23-14 loss to the New York Jets.
RB Kylin Hill dives into the end zone on a 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of the Packers' 23-14 loss to the New York Jets.

GREEN BAY – Moments before Kylin Hill walked into the Zoom room to address reporters, the Packers' rookie running back grabbed his phone and tweeted out three numbers.


It was a short, simple post, but perfectly captured how the former All-Southeastern Conference running back feels to this day about slipping into the seventh round, No. 256 overall, in the 2021 NFL Draft.

"That's my daily motivation," Hill said. "Seventh-round pick, that's just my daily grind, my motivation. When I'm tired, that's what I think about, just to prove a lot of people wrong in my life."

Hill ran like a back with a chip on his shoulder Saturday. While the Packers fell 24-13 to the New York Jets in their second preseason game at Lambeau Field, Hill kicked off Green Bay's scoring for the second consecutive week with a 12-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

It came seven days after Hill keyed the Packers' only scoring drive with a 22-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown against Houston. His 12-yard run also sparked a 135-yard day on the ground for Green Bay's run game.

"I have to give it to my O-line. I had one guy to miss," Hill said. "Once I had that one guy to miss, I saw the sideline and I saw the guy at the goal line. I was like, 'This is my opportunity. I have to win this one-on-one battle.' I just put my head down to push it in and that's what I did."

That opening series was a big step in the right direction for a Packers offense that struggled to get its run game going against the Texans, finishing with just 49 rushing yards on 21 carries.

Despite playing against many of the Jets' starters, the Packers nearly surpassed last week's rushing totals on their opening offensive series, with second-year running back AJ Dillon bulldozing his way to 28 yards on four carries, in addition to two catches for 12 yards.

Dillon, the complementary power back to slasher Aaron Jones, carried the ball just once last week after Green Bay's offense went three-and-out on its opening possession.

"AJ came out there and he got the ball rolling," receiver Malik Taylor said. "He had his feet going and then everybody just gave us the energy. I feel like when he came out with a fast start, it really just translated to the receivers and he really set the tone for that game."

Taylor would know. His 23-yard catch along the sideline from third-string quarterback Kurt Benkert was a big moment during that eight-play, 75-yard series. Officials originally ruled it an incompletion but it was overturned upon a successful challenge.

Hill took it from there. While he had the option to cut back inside, Hill saw the sideline open behind block of right tackle Ben Braden and tight end Bronson Kaufusi, and found his way into the end zone for the second time in as many weeks. He finished with seven carries for 29 yards and two catches for 11.

First-year running back Patrick Taylor led Green Bay in rushing with eight carries for 48 yards, but fumbled on the first play of the second half.

The trio of Hill, Taylor and Dexter Williams (who had 75 all-purpose yards against the Jets) have been locked in a tight competition for the No. 3 job behind Jones and Dillon. As the Packers prepare for next Saturday's preseason finale in Buffalo, Hill believes the best is still yet to come for the backfield.

"A majority of it was us just making mistakes," said Hill when asked about the running game's struggles last week. "Everybody just settled in, everybody did their job. The second game everything looked better and the third one is going to look even better, the more comfortable we get."

Slaton's first sack: With mounting injuries on the defensive line, rookie fifth-round pick T.J. Slaton has been a busy man the past two weeks.

After registering four tackles in 46 snaps against Houston, the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder again made his presence felt with four tackles and his first NFL sack, albeit preseason, after smashing his way to Jets quarterback Mike White for a 7-yard loss.

The sack, which came shortly after Taylor's fumble, stymied New York's drive, causing the Jets to settle for a Matt Ammendola 46-yard field goal.

"I just stuck my arm and it was kind of like a clothesline, and then I wrapped him up," Slaton said. "I was happy, the crowd was rumbling. It was mind-blowing for me because I got my first sack in the NFL. Even though it is preseason, it's still my first one."

Making it count: Malik Taylor understands what he's up against in the deepest receiver room the Packers have featured in years.

Although it's not always easy to get first-team reps in practice, the second-year receiver has been one of the team's most visible offensive contributors through the first two preseason games.

The former Ferris State standout currently leads the Packers with nine catches for 116 yards. He was one of only four receivers active against the Jets, with four wideouts out with injuries and four other veterans being healthy scratches.

"It's a crowded room. We're all good receivers," Taylor said. "We're all just going to go out there and just play our game.

"You'll drive yourself crazy trying to think of different scenarios and what'll happen if this happens and things like that. I think the best way to go about it is to go out there and play your best game, put out good film."

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