GREEN BAY, Wis. — There hasn’t been this much buzz over how a Green Bay Packers rookie running back looked in training camp since the unflattering photos of Eddie Lacy made the rounds in the summer of 2013
This time, it’s a much different feeling with the muscle-packed AJ Dillon than the overweight Lacy.
The first opportunity to see the second-round pick from Boston College came in Saturday’s opening training camp practice, and it was quite the display.
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 15, 2020
Ever since the draft, the Packers have touted the 6-foot, 247-pound Dillon as a much different back than starter Aaron Jones, but they finally were able to put him on display.
“He has got some massive legs,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “That’s something we talked about with our staff, we have not seen a running back built like that — not in my career, that I’ve been around.”
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers described Dillon as “a large man.”
“He walks around pretty comfortably at 250 for a back and moves really well,” Rodgers said. “Big legs, big calves. He’s a well-built guy. It’ll be exciting to see him get up to speed mentally. That’s going to be his biggest hurdle, especially with the guys in that room who have a pretty good comfort within the offense. But he’s a big boy.”
LaFleur worked in Dillon as the No. 3 back behind Jones and Jamaal Williams.
Drafting Dillon came as a bit of a surprising to some, considering Jones was coming off his breakout season with more than 1,500 total yards of offense last season and an NFL-best tying 19 touchdowns. But Jones is entering the final year of his contract and while the Packers signed defensive tackle Kenny Clark to an extension on Saturday, left tackle David Bakhtiari would seemingly be higher on general manager Brian Gutekunst’s re-sign list than Jones.
Dillon rushed for 4,382 yards and 38 touchdowns in three years at Boston College.
The was no hitting in Saturday’s practice, and the pads won’t go on for another couple of days, but already Dillon was turning heads.
“As a linebacker, you want to man up and say, ‘If I see you in the hole, I’m going to hit you up top,'” Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “But when you see how big he is, you’ve almost got to go low. But then you look at his legs, and he’s got tree trunks. So you might want to think twice with that, too. So I’m excited to see what he brings to the table. He’s an extremely good guy. You see that, his personality. He’s kind of quiet, but he’s all about business. So I’m eager to see how he plays and be a one-two punch with Aaron.”
Lacy, who was listed at 5-11 and between 230 and 250 pounds during his career but constantly battled weight issues, was the last truly bruising back the Packers had. He rushed for 1,178 yards as a rookie and 1,139 yards in his second season but an inability to keep his weight under control shortened his career. The Packers let him leave in free agency after the 2016 season and he played just one more year, 2017 with Seattle, and has been out of the NFL ever since.
“I think he’s obviously built to last,” Gutekunst said after he drafted Dillon. “He has had a lot of production over the last three years and proven that. We had a chance to have Eddie Lacy here for a few years where he was that kind of back, and I think A.J. can do some similar things.”