|Young, Jones-Drew believe they can improve after stellar rookie seasons|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 September 2007 15:16|
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Tennessee's Vince Young and Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew were two of the most impressive rookies in the league last season.|
Young went 8-5 as a starter and led the Titans to six consecutive wins before a season-ending loss to New England ended their playoff hopes.
Jones-Drew totaled 2,250 yards of offense, the third most by a rookie in NFL history, and scored 16 touchdowns while playing behind Fred Taylor.
Both of them believe they can do better. They begin their second seasons on opposite sidelines Sunday, when the Jaguars host the Titans.
``It is what you make it,'' Jones-Drew said. ``If you go out there and play like you did before and don't think you know the game and you still try to be coachable and learn, then that's when you keep making plays. I haven't done enough to be all high on myself because I didn't do anything.''
Jones-Drew ran for 941 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry and finishing 59 yards shy of making the Jaguars the fifth team in NFL history with two 1,000 rushers. He added 436 yards receiving and 860 yards on kickoff returns.
Not bad for a 5-foot-7, 208-pound back from UCLA who was the 60th overall pick in the draft. Then again, Jones-Drew expected success even though Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney, DeAngelo Williams, Joseph Addai and LenDale White were selected ahead of him.
``I don't see any surprises in this league,'' Jones-Drew said. ``I don't underestimate anyone. If you're fighting a guy 5-2, 100 pounds, you're going to fight him the same way you fight a guy who's 6-6, 300 pounds because you don't want to lose. That's how I see it. That's how I view life.''
Jones-Drew spent the better part of last season trying to prove everyone wrong. All 32 teams passed on him at least once in the draft - the reason he wears No. 32 - and several overlooked him twice, including the Titans.
``Every game is a rivalry game for me because they didn't pick me,'' he said. ``I'm going to go out there angry and play.''
Jones-Drew may have been most upset when the Offensive Rookie of the Year award was announced last season. He thought he had outperformed the other top contenders: Young, Bush, New Orleans receiver Marques Colston and San Diego left tackle Marcus McNeill.
But Young won by a wide margin. Colston and Jones-Drew tied for second.
``I can't be mad at Vince because I didn't get to vote for it, and he didn't either,'' Jones-Drew said. ``You guys voted for it, so I should be mad at you guys. It was terrible.''
Nonetheless, Jones-Drew found plenty of fame in the offseason.
He got a weekly radio show, started blogging on the team Web site, launched his own site and filmed several national commercials, including one for the NFL Network and another with his mother for Campbell's Soup.
Coincidentally, Young turned down a chance to be in the Campbell's commercial.
``I had a commitment to my teammates,'' Young said. ``I felt like if my teammates are out here sweating and going through practice and the quarterback's not there, that is a bad example that I don't want to put out. I really felt like I needed to be there with my team.''
It was a clear indication Young was ready to take the next step as a leader.
The first one came on the field last season, when he sparked the winning streak by making plays with his arm and legs. Five of the victories came after the Titans either were tied or trailing in the fourth quarter.
Young's heroics landed him on the cover of the Madden 2007 video game and gave the Titans high expectations for this season.
But Young feels he still has room for improvement. He completed 51.5 percent of his passes - 70th out of all NFL players who threw a pass in 2006 - and had more interceptions (13) than TD passes (12).
Now, he wants to be more patient in the pocket, not make as many mistakes and learn to find his second and third receivers.
``I feel like if I know what is going on out there on that football field, I can use all my talents to keep the chains moving and spreading the ball around to all my receivers and tight ends, and just being more comfortable leading my guys in battle,'' Young said. ``I feel like if I'm more comfortable with the game I can showcase more of my talent out there.''
Jones-Drew has raised his expectations, too.
He believes he's a more complete back, able to read defenses quicker, pick up more blitzes and run better pass routes.
``I feel like I'm a more well-rounded back,'' he said. ``Everything I did last year, I try to keep the same routine going and playing the same way I did and let everything else filter out.''
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