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Packers offense taking small steps forward after enduring a rough October

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Perhaps it’s only fitting that the NFL’s youngest team is taking baby steps in its attempt to spark a struggling offense.

The Packers (3-5) made at least a modest move forward in a 20-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams that snapped their four-game skid. In that game, the Packers scored a first-half touchdown for the first time since Sept. 17.

Green Bay’s offense will try to continue that progress Sunday at Pittsburgh (5-3) while realizing there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

“It’s been a lot of highs and a lot of lows, some inconsistencies,” quarterback Jordan Love said. “I think we’re continuing to build every week and just try to get this thing going with just consistent performance every week.”

The Packers still haven’t exceeded the 20-point mark in any of their past six games, but they posted season highs in yards rushing (184), total yards (391) and time of possession (35:16) against the Rams.

Everything’s relative, of course. The Packers’ season high in total offense is 44 yards below the season average of the Miami Dolphins, who lead the NFL with 435.3 yards per game.

But the Packers are at least showing some positive signs on offense after struggling to get out of their own way for the past several weeks. They want to do more to assist their defense, which has allowed an average of 15.8 points over Green Bay’s past four games.

“It’s up to us to put some points on the board, especially in the first half,” right guard Jon Runyan Jr. said. “We can’t have them trying to pitch a shutout every game.”

Green Bay’s string of five straight games without a first-half touchdown ended Sunday when Aaron Jones reached the end zone on a 3-yard run early in the second quarter. But it’s the way the Packers performed down the stretch that provided the most cause for optimism.

After the Packers lost fumbles on their first two possessions of the second half, they scored on three of their next four drives to put the game out of reach. Love completed a season-high 76.9% of his passes and went 12 of 13 in the second half.

“Guys were getting open,” Love said. “They were doing a good job and I think it all ties back to the week we had in practice. I think we had a great week. Everyone felt really locked in with the game plan and really confident in it, and I think we went out there and showed it during the game.”

Jones' presence clearly makes a major difference for this offense. Jones, who turns 29 on Dec. 2, is the Packers’ oldest available offensive player now that 32-year-old left tackle David Bakhtiari is out for the season with a knee injury.

Jones scored two touchdowns in a season-opening 38-20 victory at Chicago but suffered a hamstring injury that day that caused him to miss three games. Jones had a season-high 24 touches (20 carries, four receptions) and rushed for 73 yards against the Rams.

“I wasn’t at 100 but it felt like I was close,” Jones said after that game. “Hopefully next week I’m at 100, just keep running the ball, hold onto it and finish fighting forward and help my team and be that spark.”

Jones provided enough of a spark against the Rams to have the Packers believing they can continue moving forward the rest of the season.

They believe the strides they're making are greater than mere baby steps.

“Look, we’ve definitely got a long way to go still, but I think we took a massive step in the right direction, and I think we have the guys to continue taking steps in that direction,” center Josh Myers said. "I’m excited for it.”

NOTES: CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder), LB Quay Walker (groin), LT Yosh Nijman (back) and Runyan (neck) didn’t practice Wednesday. Walker also missed the Rams game. … S Rudy Ford, who missed the Rams game with a calf injury, was a limited practice participant. DL Kenny Clark (shoulder), Elgton Jenkins and Jones also practiced on a limited basis. … WR Christian Watson, who left Sunday’s game after hurting his back while making a 37-yard catch, was a full practice participant.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL