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Aaron Jones: 'Chapter 2' of NFL Career is 'Going to be Beautiful' 

EAGAN, Minn. – In an Instagram Story filmed in a parking garage and posted late Wednesday night, Aaron Jones asked his young son, "Where are we, Junior?"

The 3-year-old, riding atop a wheeled suitcase, looked up at Jones and giggled.

"Where are we?" Jones asked again.

"Vikings!" Aaron, Jr., shouted happily.

The pint-sized look-alike isn't the only one excited about his dad's new job.

Jones arrived at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center Thursday to sign a contract with the Vikings, just a few days after being released by the Packers. He lit up when presented with a purple sombrero — which he began wearing in 2019 to honor his hometown of El Paso, Texas — just before inking his name to paper.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity," Jones told media members later that day. "I'd like to thank K.O. (Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell) and [General Manager] Kwesi [Adofo-Mensah] for believing in me and taking a chance on me.

"I'd also like to thank the Green Bay Packers for drafting me seven years ago and giving me the opportunity to establish myself in the NFL and build myself off the field, as well," he added.

If Jones finds it bizarre to now be on the Border Battle's other side, he doesn't show it.

"You know, it's football," he said. "I played for many different teams growing up – middle school, high school – you know, you change teams, you change teammates, and that's part of the game. And like I said, I'm blessed to be here. I'm excited for what's to come and to get to work with these guys."

A 2017 fifth-round pick, Jones has three 1,000-yard rushing seasons to his résumé and last season recorded 142 carries for 656 yards and two touchdowns over 11 starts. He also added 30 catches and 233 yards and a touchdown through the air. In the Packers Divisional Round loss to San Francisco, Jones became the first player in franchise history to record five consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

O'Connell told media members he's "always been a huge Aaron Jones fan." Now, the 29-year-old is on his offense.

O'Connell noted Jones' ability to run the football as well as impact the pass game. And off the field? He said Jones' "poise and demeanor and leadership" shined through from the opposing sideline.

"And all of that's been confirmed in a short amount of time … really, since we've been able to have him in the building today and getting around him," O'Connell said. "I think he enhances our room more than just the addition of another running back. It's how he puts his skill set with Ty [Chandler] and our other runners in the room and, more importantly, what he may unlock from things he's done in this league, things that fit for our offense.

"You know, he's a complete back from a standpoint of a guy who's played a lot of football. He is 29 years old, but he's also been part of an offense where he hasn't had to carry the full burden, the full load," O'Connell added. "And the impact on third down as a pass protector, a receiver out of the backfield. Five-yards-per-carry career average. I mean, this is a guy that's had the type of impact we were looking for to add to our room, and I'm really, really excited to start getting to work with Aaron."

Jones knows he isn't a spring chicken by NFL standards, but he assured he hasn't lost a step.

"I mean, I think you got to see how I finished the season last year," he said, grinning.

Jones was asked if being released by the Packers, who signed a 26-year-old Josh Jacobs, sparks extra motivation.

He doesn't need anything extra, he emphasized.

"Just because they didn't re-sign me is not fuel to the fire. My fire has already been lit, and it's gonna stay lit," Jones said. "I'm on a mission to be the best running back in the NFL. And I'm glad I get to prove that here, in Minnesota with a great organization. They've opened their doors to us, loving and kind, and we've had a great time here so far, so I'm ready to enjoy them."

Jones does not yet have a deep relationship with a new teammate, but after facing Minnesota 11 times across seven seasons, he's plenty familiar with several players and mentioned a mutual respect that's been quickly communicated after games.

"Football is like a fraternity. So we've all been through the same thing; we all put in that work, so when you see somebody who's been there, doing the same thing that you do … it's mutual love," he said. "I always talked to them after the game."

He recalled postgame chats last season with rookie linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr., and safety Harrison Smith – who restructured his contract Wednesday to remain with the Vikings for a 13th season.

"They've given us trouble for years, so I'm glad to not get that trouble," Jones quipped of Minnesota's defense. "I'm excited to play with [Smith]. You know, I had to block him my rookie year. I remember him putting me on the turf, on my backside. I went to Coach, 'Can we change the protection?'

"But I'm happy to be here with him. Learn from him. Pick his brain, see how he's been able to play for so long and stay healthy. And just see how he leads," Jones added.

There's been give and take in the series. The Packers went 6-5 in Border Battles with Jones in the lineup, including 5-0 when he rushed for at least 75 yards.

Leadership is important to Jones, whose late father provided a strong example. Though Alvin Jones, Sr., sadly passed away in April 2021 due to COVID-19, his influence and legacy live on through his wife and children.

Jones, who wears a chain that holds a bit of his father's ashes, said it meant "everything" to have his family in Minnesota to help him kick off this next leg of his NFL career.

"They're my backbone. My rock. So you'll probably see a lot of them," he said.

"It's just a blessing to be here," Jones added with a smile. "Chapter 1's over. This is the start of Chapter 2, and Chapter 2 is going to be beautiful."