Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew has reached elite status amongst NFL players as he's made the Pro Bowl, starred in national television ads and even has his own national radio show. Jones-Drew is the face of the Jaguars franchise and is he's already achieved more than anyone could've asked from the former second-round draft pick.
Jones-Drew has always been fueled by doubters as the 5 foot, 7 inch back went undefeated in high school, set records in college while playing in the same town as Reggie Bush and has made more than 60 trips to the end zone in his five-year NFL career.
Most NFL fans, especially Jaguars fans know that Jones-Drew chose the number '32' because all 32 teams passed on him at least once. Maurice has seemingly banged the 'no respect' card for his team not gaining national notoriety, and looks for even the most minute slight to give him additional motivation, similar to the mindset of the great Michael Jordan.
Maurice has never seemed to care, at least not publicly about personal accolades. He speaks openly about winning a title, and the 2010 season proved without much doubt that he is the consummate team player as he watched teammate Marcedes Lewis utilized as the primary red zone threat while Jones-Drew's numbers suffered as he had the fewest amount of touchdowns for any season in his professional career with seven.
The mostly durable Jones-Drew had his first real injury scare last season when he had to miss the team's final two games, both losses due to a knee injury that required surgery. This, along with the solid play of MJD's backup, Rashad Jennings has made the Jaguars consider running more of a tandem backfield as they did when Jones-Drew used to spell the great Fred Taylor.
Although Jones-Drew admitted last month that his knee was "approximately 85 percent," the Jaguars running back wants no part of a two-back system.
"I can still carry the load regardless of what surgery I had or whatnot," Jones-Drew said. "They're going to be kind of anxious to throw Rashad in, and they're already kind of scared of my knee."
Although the Jaguars best offensive play is any one that Maurice Jones-Drew touches the football, is it wise to continue grinding on a player who was on a pace to near 350 carries last season before his injury?
"I want to be able to be out the gates playing because it's a production-based business," Jones-Drew said. "They're already skeptical maybe it's his knee, maybe we're working him too hard, we should give him a break."
Anyone who has interviewed Maurice Jones-Drew knows that he's all about winning, and in his heart of hearts he likely believes that him touching the ball as much as possible gives the Jaguars their best opportunity to do so. With the Jaguars passing game in recent years, it's tough to argue with him.
Maurice wants to go full speed from the beginning of camp, whenever that will be.
"If I have to go through double days in camp to prove it, I will. I'm fine," the Jaguars Pro Bowl running back reiterated.
The Jaguars need to do what's best for the team in the short and long term and that may be less touches for Maurice Jones-Drew. They have a very capable back who could start for a handful of teams in Rashad Jennings and although a victory in September counts for as much as one in December, Jacksonville needs a healthy Jones-Drew down the stretch to play their best football, and the Jaguars have faded down the stretch in each of the last three seasons.
Although Jones-Drew's numbers have historically had a great impact on the Jaguars win-loss record, the team may be better off sharing carries to keep their primary weapon a little more fresh for a December playoff run.
Charlie Bernstein is the host of “The Sports Crunch” on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie