GREEN BAY, Wis. – Two of the Green Bay Packers’ wounded standouts, running back Aaron Jones and outside linebacker Rashan Gary, are active for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
With the bye coming up, the Packers could have taken a conservative approach. Between missing last week’s game against Minnesota, this game and the week off, Jones and Gary could have had three weeks off before the finishing five-game stretch begins against Chicago on Dec. 12.
“I would say if a guy’s cleared to play, we’ll let him go,” coach Matt LaFleur said after Friday’s practice. “But you're also mindful of what you have in front of you. And certainly we never want to put somebody in a position where you could subject them to greater risk where they could be out for a longer period of time.”
Instead, the Packers will get a boost from two of their top players for this NFC showdown.
Green Bay’s inactives are cornerback Kevin King (hip/knee), left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee), receiver Malik Taylor (abdomen), safety Vernon Scott and defensive tackle Jack Heflin.
On a cold, windy day, Jones will pair with AJ Dillon to give the Packers a one-two punch in the backfield. The Rams are tough against the run, though, ranking sixth in yards per carry and 10th in yards per game. However, after smothering the Texans and Titans, the Rams gave up 156 rushing yards against San Francisco before the bye.
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Beyond his ability to stop the run and rush the passer, Gary’s return is important with Jonathan Garvin on the COVID list. The Packers will have Gary and Preston Smith in the starting lineup, and Tipa Galeai and La’Darius Hamilton in reserve.
Also back after missing last week’s game is receiver Allen Lazard.
Jones was limited participation at practice all week after missing the game at Minnesota with the knee injury sustained vs. Seattle. He had 99 rushing yards and one touchdown in last year’s 32-18 playoff victory over the Rams.
Gary was full participation at practice on Friday after going limited the previous two days. He had 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits in last year’s win, including a third-down sack that killed the Rams’ final offensive series.
Lazard was limited all week due to the shoulder injury that kept him out of last week’s game against Minnesota. His 58-yard touchdown catch clinched last year’s win.
The Rams, who are coming off their bye, will have all of their key players available.