Aaron Jones Sets High Goals for Year Four: ‘Trying to Bring Super Bowl Trophy to the City’
Between his offseason quarantine workouts in El Paso and enjoying fatherhood with the arrival of his first-born son, Packers running back Aaron Jones continues to stay active in preparation for his fourth season in the NFL.
The UTEP all-time leading rusher and Burges High School grad joined SportsTalk on Wednesday for a special interview and he exuded confidence through the nearly 40-minute segment. From taking listener's questions, to discussing the unique offseason he's experiencing, to talking about the football landscape in El Paso, Jones caught the El Paso audience up with everything going on in his life.
His son, Aaron Jones Jr., is atop the highlights for his quarantine period in El Paso. Instead of having to leave and join his team for offseason workouts in Green Bay, he was able to remain in the city due to the Packers' virtual program.
"I've definitely been blessed to be around him and it's been a lot of fun," he said. "I don't take any of it for granted."
On the football side of things, the Packers have had a lively offseason themselves. They drafted running back AJ Dillon in the second round, which in turn has everyone's eyes set on both Jones and backup Jamaal Williams as they both enter the final year of their rookie contracts.
"You only get one opportunity in life, whether it be football or something else, so I'm going to go out there and be the best I can and play all out," Jones said about his possible free agency status after this year. "I'll let my agent and the Packers handle that and whatever I can control, I can control."
Being at home during the virtual offseason program doesn't take away from the strenuous schedule for the NFL. Like an online class, Jones must report every day to different position group training, participate in quizzes, join team meetings, study film and communicate constantly with his team.
"It shows you can get work done at home but you miss the chemistry," he explained.
In accordance with his NFL offseason program, Jones operates on a strict daily workout schedule. He's been able to practice alongside his twin brother, who was set to join the interview but instead will join SportsTalk later this week. "(Alvin's) gonna get a shot in the NFL. He's waiting for the facilities to open up so he can get a workout," Aaron said about Alvin.
"In the morning, physical therapy. After that, hit the gym," Jones explained about his workout schedule. "Then depending on what day it is, I might go run routes or my dad will shoot footballs out of the jug machine and me and my brother, some mornings, we'll go out to (schools) and do workouts there. That's where we do our receiver drills and I actually got a chance to work with Steven Montez which was really cool. He looks great, throws the ball great and I'm excited for him.
Aside from Montez, who was signed by Washington as an undrafted free agent, Jones routinely trains with UTEP players that are in town, including TJ Goodwin, Isaiah Bravo, Justin Garrett, Deion Hankins, Ronald Awatt and Josh Caldwell. He spoke extensively about Hankins, the Parkland grad and El Paso's all-time leading rusher at the high school level, and about Goodwin.
"(Deion) looks big and strong," Jones said. "I asked I'm 'what weight program are you on? I need to get on that.' He looks good and I'm excited for him. He's going to put on well for this city and he's excited."
"Just the way (Goodwin) throws the ball and his confidence," he said when asked about what he likes about the UTEP quarterback's game. "I always tell people that when you step on the field, you have to believe you're the best player on the field. It's not cocky, it's confidence."
He continues to be increasingly impressed with the level of competition in the city at the high school level too, especially with the number of prospects earning Division I offers and Power-5 looks. Jones appreciates the work ethic that players have, training in groups and applying themselves during this time in order to get better.
"I sit back and smile because, at the time when I was in high school and even before, scouts didn't really come to this area," Jones explained. "They overlooked it and they don't have talent over there. With some guys coming out of here, finding success, I feel like coaches now are throwing on the tape and thinking 'wow, they do have talent there.' People here in El Paso are starting to get recognized. That's all I ever wanted from all along because I know guys here can play at a very high level and we don't get the opportunity like some of those kids in the metropolitan area."
Normally around this time, both he and Alvin get set to host the Jones Brothers Youth Skills Camp. It became clear that the fourth iteration of their free annual camp couldn't operate under the circumstances with the pandemic.
"It's definitely tough. The main reason we aren't doing it this year is the safety of everyone," he said. "But it's something that we're truly going to miss. It's been a staple for me. I love coming back here, doing the free camp, seeing the kids smile and getting to talk to them and vibe with them. Also getting to do it with my brother and seeing players from the NFL come in. Kids get a chance to meet those guys."
On Patrick Mahomes' $503 million contract signing this week
"I spoke to him and let him know how proud of him I was," Jones beamed. "I remember before we even got drafted, we trained at Exos in San Diego before the draft and I knew then he was going to be special. I shot him a text, told him how proud I was and how far along we've come. He texted me back saying thanks, (you're) next, keep working and many blessings. I'm happy for my guy and he is a great QB and he showed it."
On Sean Kugler and how Jones feels he's extremely underappreciated
"I remember him sitting me down when I declared (for the NFL Draft in 2017) and he didn't necessarily want me to declare, any coach would've loved to have me back for another year, but as the leader and mentor coach Kugs was, he sat me down and he was like 'this is what you need to know for the NFL.' He showed me defenses, fronts, all of this stuff. When I got to the combine, they asked me all of those questions and I was giggling because coach Kugs is a real one and sat here and told me all of this. I looked like a genius because I knew all of it. That just shows how much coach Kugs loves you."
On Green Bay and Playing at Lambeau Field
"You wake up in the morning and they're tailgating at five, six (in the morning) and the game is at seven, eight at night," Jones said with a chuckle. "You can just see it and they live for that. That's the environment I love to play in."
He wants to be a Packer for life. That's his message this offseason. Jones loves Green Bay, its fans, the organization and his teammates. The NFL co-leader in rushing touchdowns especially enjoys whenever he gets in the end zone and gets to celebrate with the fans.
"The first (Lambo leap) made me think, 'wow, I belong.' After that, it's pure joy," he said. "I feel like I'm at home when I'm in the end zone. You get caught up in the adrenaline and a couple of times, if you watched, I'm looking around trying to find a spot. I'll look both ways, decide where I want to jump and then go."
Finally, his message to fans
"I'm ready to get my respect. I feel like they've been sleeping on me for a while now. It's time. I'm trying to bring that super bowl trophy back to the city. Unfinished business."