May 29, 2022

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Production at running back reaching new heights…

2 min read
Production at running back reaching new heights...

Both backs’ all-around games – rushing, receiving, pass protection – are perfectly suited for LaFleur’s offense, and they became just the second backfield tandem in team history to each surpass 1,100 yards from scrimmage in the same season, joining John Brockington and MacArthur Lane from 1972.

Their experience and productivity likely will be relied on even more this year as quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the passing game adjust to a new reality that doesn’t include Davante Adams or Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Behind Jones and Dillon, Hill and Taylor aren’t the proven commodities the veterans are, but the Packers are eager to see them develop. The biggest questions revolve around health.

The 5-10, 214-pound Hill, drafted in the seventh round out of Mississippi State, seized the No. 3 role and kickoff-return job with an impressive rookie training camp. But in Week 8 at Arizona, an ill-fated decision to return a kickoff from deep in his own end zone led to a wicked hit and a season-ending knee injury.

It’s uncertain how soon Hill, who had 10 carries for 24 yards in his reserve role, will be back to full strength. But the Packers envision him as a contributor on offense and special teams – where he posted a 41-yard kickoff return in 10 attempts – when healthy again.

The 6-2, 217-pound Taylor stepped off the practice squad and into the void when Hill went down, but his road to the active roster was much more arduous than a simple transaction.

Signing as an undrafted free agent in 2020 from Memphis, Taylor sat out his entire rookie year recovering from a foot injury that derailed his final college season but wasn’t surgically repaired until just before the draft that year.

Finally cleared medically after an extended rehab, he landed a spot on the practice squad coming out of preseason last summer. Then, with Hill unavailable, he handled some spot duty and wound up getting a decent amount of action in the final two regular-season games.

Taylor rushed six times for 18 yards in Week 17 vs. Minnesota and then had 11 carries for 53 yards and his first NFL TD in Week 18 at Detroit. His final tallies were 23 carries for 89 yards.

If Taylor’s injury issues are behind him and Hill is well on the road to recovery, the Packers’ depth behind Jones and Dillon is of minimal concern. That said, even if the position won’t generate much discussion or attention until Day 3 of the draft, late-round and/or undrafted prospects will be on the team’s radar.