FRISCO, Texas — The Green Bay Packers enter the game on Sunday afternoon fresh off a three-game heater on the heels of the running game powered by Aaron Jones who led the NFL in rushing yards over the final three weeks with 358 yards. Obviously, it's a big point to note when the Cowboys welcome in Jones and the Packers in a win-or-go-home game to determine who moves onto the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Jones' run coming into the playoff matchup doesn't come at the most opportune time for the Cowboys, of course, especially considering the team's up-and-down performances against the run this season and their history defending Jones (123.3 yards per game and 6 TD in three career games).
However, the confidence remains high with a unit that only allowed 88 yards per game on the ground over the final three games and now has a healthy Johnathan Hankins back in the equation.
"It starts with us up front," Micah Parsons said on Thursday. "We got to be dominant up front, get a lot of bend back, get a lot of movement. I feel like we can do what we're capable of. We showed it already. We just got to continue to do it Sunday."
The Cowboys defensive unit was quick to give respect to Jones on Thursday as he finds his stride once again after missing three games with a sprained MCL earlier in the season.
"He's been toting that rock," Johnathan Hankins said. "He's fast. He can run through blocks. All in all, he's a great running back. They have a good combination of running backs, a great scheme. They've been doing everything they've needed to do to get where they're at. It's up to us to go out there and stop the run."
"I think he's so fast," Parsons said about Jones. "Good dude too. Really good dude. Real fast, really elusive. Can make any cut, can hit the edge. He's an all-around back."
Jones isn't the only backfield weapon to account for on Sunday as fourth-year running back AJ Dillon serves as another potential weapon for the Packers offense, although his status remains up in the air after not practicing on Wednesday and Thursday due to injury,
"That's tough," Hankins said about his undetermined status. "I've been thinking about how I'm gonna be able to tackle this guy. He's a big, fast, strong joker. Him and Aaron, that's definitely one of the great duos we've faced this year."
Despite the concerns in defending the run, the Cowboys defense with Johnathan Hankins back in the fold has strong confidence in stopping anything coming out of the backfield in the playoffs. For the defensive line and the units behind, it's a big push towards a potential big run in January.
"Hank don't move," Parsons said. "He's a crucial piece to this defense. It's real crucial to have Hank back – especially with how good their gap schemes and pullers are – to get him back in this lineup and get ready for Sunday."