Disastrous start derails Devante Mays' debut and Packers' run game

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Only Devante Mays knows what he was thinking after he fumbled on his first NFL play from scrimmage. Or what was going through his head when he fumbled on his second.

And for now, it will stay that way because Mays was in no mood to discuss his disastrous debut as part of the Green Bay Packers’ offense.

The rookie seventh-round draft pick, who before Sunday had played only on special teams, declined comment in the locker room after the Packers’ 23-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field.

Minutes earlier, Aaron Jones -- whose knee injury last week put Mays in position to be the No. 2 running back behind Jamaal Williams for Sunday’s game -- sat in the empty locker stall next to him (a locker once used by Martellus Bennett), and tried to console his fellow rookie.

“I told him, ‘Just keep your head up. I know it’s not the day you wanted to have,’” Jones said. “It was his first game playing in. It was pretty much his welcome-to-the-league game. Everybody has that moment. I missed a pass protection, that was my moment. So I told him, ‘Everybody has that moment, just keep your head up.’”

It’s one thing to get beat for a sack like Jones did when he missed that block against Detroit. It’s another to cough up the ball twice like Mays did on his first two NFL carries.

Coach Mike McCarthy had intended to use Mays more extensively than his three carries for minus-1 yard, but he benched him after his second-quarter fumble -- the Packers' third turnover in as many possessions to start the game. Mays’ next carry came with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left in the game, and backup tackle Jason Spriggs recovered it. Mays stayed in the game and carried on the next play for a 1-yard gain.

“With Jamaal Williams, I was concerned as far as his number of touches,” McCarthy said. “I had a number in mind, but Devante Mays, I also had a number in mind for him and after the fumble I lost confidence in him. I have to get [over] that. I can’t do that in the game.”

Like Jones, Williams tried to stick up for Mays.

“My first time when I got in there wasn’t a piece of cake,” Williams said. “You’ve just got to make sure he’s OK and make sure he keeps his head and know that you’re going to get your opportunity and make sure you don’t do the same thing because now you’ve got people already criticizing you. Really, we know what Mays can do, and I believe in him as my teammate. I know that he’ll be all right and next time he gets his shot, he’ll do his thing.”

Williams, who grinded out tough yards a week earlier against the Bears after Jones and Ty Montgomery (ribs) were injured, carried 18 times for 57 yards against the Ravens.

The Packers may have to use the same backfield combination this week at Pittsburgh. Montgomery did not practice all last week and Jones’ diagnosis was a 3-6 week injury, although he seemed convinced it would be on the short end of that timeline.

“My rehab’s going well,” said Jones, who is the Packers' leading rusher this season. “My knee’s feeling good. So I’ve just got to stay with that, and I’m hoping sooner than later.”