GREEN BAY – Running back Aaron Jones returned to the Packers' lineup Sunday and was welcomed back in a big way, dominating Green Bay's first drive of the game.
Jones carried eight times for 44 yards on the possession, with three of his runs gaining at least seven yards. Those three plays showed some impressive, synched-up blocking that, not surprisingly, all involved getting a hat on three-time All-Pro LB Lavonte David.
Also, the scramble drill is alive and well for QB Jordan Love. Rookie receivers Malik Heath and Jayden Reed looked like experienced vets in keeping themselves alive and giving their QB a chance to make an improvised play.
Here are the video clips.
Play No. 1: Second-and-3 from the Green Bay 32, first quarter, 8:27 left
Result: 20-yard run by Jones
No other way to say it – this is just how you draw it up. RG Jon Runyan (76) and RT Zach Tom (50) seal NT Vita Vea (50) and DL Logan Hall (90), respectively, to the inside. C Josh Myers (71) pulls and kicks out OLB Shaquil Barrett (7). The key second-level block on David? That's up to TE Tucker Kraft (85), and Jones is off to the races the first time he touches the ball in a month, which he's pretty excited about.
Play No. 2: Second-and-5 from the Tampa Bay 19, first quarter, 5:13 left
Result: 7-yard run by Jones
Five plays later, the Packers try some pulling action in the other direction, and it works quite nicely again. Runyan and TE Josiah Deguara (81) slide across the formation to take on OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (9) and LB K.J. Britt (52), respectively (note the corresponding shapes to designate who's got whom). LT Rasheed Walker (63) gets a little help from a chip block by Kraft to plant Hall into the ground, and then Kraft proceeds to simply let David overpursue and take himself out of the play.
Play No. 3: First-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 12, first quarter, 4:33 left
Result: 7-yard run by Jones
Very next snap, it's Jones again, but instead of a gap-scheme run with pulling blockers, it's a zone-scheme run this time. On the front side, it's man-on-man, as Tom takes on OLB Anthony Nelson (98), Runyan's got Britt, Myers has DL Greg Gaines (96), and LG Elgton Jenkins (74) takes David. Jones then cuts it back, getting away from Nelson just as he starts to disengage from Tom. How is the cutback lane so wide open? It's not as pretty on the backside, but Walker lets Hall sort of stumble his way out of the play, and that awkwardness makes Kraft's cut block on OLB Yaya Diaby (0) not the cleanest, but it's still effective.
Shifting gears to the scramble drill, learning how to read the quarterback when a play breaks down doesn't always come easy to young receivers. But on Green Bay's third-quarter TD drive, rookies Heath and Reed do it rather expertly to get out of two difficult long-yardage situations and keep the Packers in the game.
Play No. 4: First-and-20 from the Tampa Bay 35, third quarter, 6:44 left
Result: 15-yard completion to Heath
Heath smartly keeps his eyes on the quarterback at all times here, and when he sees Love escape the pocket, he breaks off his route and comes back a full 10 yards toward the ball to give Love a potential target. This looks low-percentage all the way, but Heath makes a great diving catch on top of the savvy positioning move.
Play No. 5: Third-and-14 from the Tampa Bay 17, third quarter, 4:26 left
Result: 17-yard TD to Reed
Four snaps later, the scramble drill is on again. This time, it's Reed who recognizes he's got to help out his quarterback, and he makes a nifty inside-out move in the end zone on CB Zyon McCollom (27) to give Love a window. Reed's finishing footwork is fast and flawless.