by Cole Pepper
Maurice Jones-Drew will not be charged in the fracas at the Conch House in May.
In a statement, Jones Drew said: “Naturally, I am pleased with this result and look forward to focusing on football. My rehab is going well and I’m anxious to join my teammates at the start of training camp.”
But there are still questions about how Jones-Drew will perform on the field in 2013.
Jones-Drew is recovering from foot surgery and hasn’t participated in team drills during any of the off-seasons practice sessions. The running back has been criticized this off-season for his apparent weight gain, although Jones-Drew says that he will be in playing shape when the season begins and expects to be ready to go in time for training camp, which begins July 26.
I expect that Jones-Drew will be a little rusty during the preseason, but that by the time the regular season rolls around, he’ll be ready to go. Off-season drama involving the 2011 NFL rushing champion is nothing new.
Last off-season, he was embroiled in a contract negotiation that turned out to be one sided. The Jaguars were unwilling to renegotiate the contract and Jones-Drew missed time in the preseason. He came back and after a slow start, ran for 177 yards against the Colts in week 3, only to sustain the foot injury on October 21 against Oakland. He missed the rest of the season.
After playing the entire 2010 season with a torn meniscus in his knee, Jones-Drew came back to lead the league in rushing the following year.
And after the Jaguars let Fred Taylor go, Jones-Drew successfully renegotiated a more lucrative contract, despite the fact that he had never been the teams starting running back.
Jones-Drew likes to debate. He is the most competitive Jaguars player since Tony Boselli. He doesn’t like to lose. At anything. That includes fantasy football or a discussion about a random sports topic. Motivation is not a problem for Jones-Drew, who chose to wear uniform number 32 to remember all of the teams (including the Jaguars) who didn’t draft him in the first round.
Here are some reasonable questions to ask about Jones-Drew’s upcoming season:
- Can a 28 year old, physical running back with over 1500 career rushing attempts come back from another lower body injury to regain the form that saw him lead the league in attempts and rushing yards in 2011?
- Is Jones-Drew going to have a “contract year?” His deal is up after this season and the Jaguars can put the franchise tag on him if they wish. In a contract year, some players will get in the best shape of their lives and really focus on the game. That’s usually Jones-Drew’s approach every year, but this off-season, while recovering from surgery, Jones-Drew has not been able to do that. His goal is to be at his college playing weight of 205. He played at 217 last year.
- If Jones-Drew isn’t 100 percent by the time the season starts, what are the alternatives?
One question that would fall into the “not a reasonable question” category: “Will the Conch House incident be a distraction?” Answer, no. Now that charges will not be filed, don’t expect this to be mentioned in the Jaguars locker room.