Packers rookie Aaron Jones still relies on twin brother from afar

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When you punch in the number with the 931 area code, you know you're calling Alvin Jones Jr. But unless you're using the FaceTime video calling app, you could be easily convinced it's Aaron Jones on the other end.

They're twins. But they're fraternal, not identical. You wouldn't know it by their voices, though. They sound the same. They laugh the same. They repeat the same familiar, "Yes sir, no sir" that comes from their military family background.

"Sometimes my mom, if she doesn't look down at the caller ID, she'll say, 'Hey Alvin,'" Aaron said. "And I'll have to say, 'Mom, this is Aaron.'"

Whichever one you're talking to, it's quickly apparent how close they are to one another.

That's what made last Sunday so tough for Aaron and Alvin, the older brother by 30 minutes. There was Alvin in El Paso, Texas, some 600 miles from AT&T Stadium, where Aaron, the Green Bay Packers' rookie running back, was about to make his first NFL start against the Dallas Cowboys. Alvin couldn't leave the UTEP campus because the senior linebacker for the Miners had a full day of meetings, film study and weightlifting.

The Packers-Cowboys game was midway through the third quarter by the time Alvin was able to park himself in front of a television.

"The first run I saw was when he went for 22 yards up the middle," Alvin said in a phone interview this week. "I was with all of my teammates, and we were all in there cheering, screaming. It's exciting. You watch people in the NFL all the time, but it's not very often you know them and really have a bond with them."

It was the longest run of the Packers' season and a big part of Aaron's breakout performance: 19 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown in the comeback victory. Even if starting running back Ty Montgomery returns Sunday from the broken ribs he sustained in Week 4, the Packers will have to find a way to get Jones on the field, too.

From players to coaches, just about everyone in Green Bay was impressed with Jones' first extended action.

"He was basically in a lot of ways coming home," Packers running backs coach Ben Sirmans said. "He had a lot of people coming to the game, and he was in a good spot."

How Jones reached that spot actually starts with his twin brother.

"He was pretty much the reason I left school [a year early]," Aaron said. "After I sat down and talked to my coaches, my parents and everybody I needed to talk to, I talked to him because I felt like I would've been leaving him. We wanted to go to school together, so we did that, but he was like, 'It's been your dream ever since we were little kids, go live your dream. I couldn't be mad at you for that.' Once he told me that, my mind was made up."

Alvin knew his brother was NFL-ready, and it didn't take all 4,114 rushing yards -- a UTEP record -- to convince him.

"His first game in college, he broke off a 60-yard touchdown run his first play in the game against New Mexico," Alvin said.

Actually, it was 65 and it was on the fifth carry of his college career, but you get the idea.

"And he's only gotten better every year," Alvin said.

The first thing you notice about Aaron is his smile. He wears it almost all the time. On occasion, though, it only masks how much he misses Alvin. The two were roommates at UTEP. They still try to talk or FaceTime every day; Aaron was on the phone with his twin when reporters were allowed in the visitors locker room Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

"That's one of the biggest things I would've wanted, for him to be there to see me play," Aaron said on one of the rare occasions his smile disappeared. "If he could've found some way to be there, he would've definitely been there."

Their parents, Alvin Sr. and Vurgess, haven't missed a game this season. For either brother. The retired military couple still lives in El Paso.

"So they'll come to my games and the next day they'll fly up to Green Bay or wherever Aaron is playing," Alvin said. "If I have an away game they'll stay up there all week and then come to my game and come back for his."

Alvin plans to come to Green Bay in less than two weeks, for the Oct. 22 game against the Saints. That's UTEP's bye week. The Packers have their bye the following week, and Aaron plans to be in El Paso for Alvin's game against UTSA.

UTEP's first season without its all-time rushing leader has been a disaster. The Miners are 0-6 and had a midseason coaching change. But Aaron thinks Alvin has played well enough to join him in the NFL, and said he planned to make sure the Packers' scouting department takes a long look at his twin before the draft next spring.

Maybe there's a chance the two could be reunited. It's the first time they've been separated in their lives. They shared a room for most of their childhood as they moved from Georgia to Germany to Tennessee. It wasn't until the family moved to Texas that they got their own rooms. But when they went to UTEP, they moved back in together. Alvin didn't find another roommate to replace Aaron and said, "It's kind of boring without him."