|Jones-Drew proves to be steal for Jaguars|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 16 December 2008 13:02|
Jones-Drew leads Jacksonville in rushing, ranks second in receptions and is one of the league's top scoring threats. He has 14 touchdowns in as many games this season, 40 in his three-year career and hasn't missed a single game because of injury.
And he makes about $445,000 - a steal by league standards.
The former second-round draft pick from UCLA will cost the Jaguars considerably more down the road if he gets his way. Jones-Drew would like a new contract in the offseason, a reward for all he's accomplished in Jacksonville. The Jaguars seem willing to negotiate, especially because Jones-Drew has been the lone bright spot in a disappointing season.
The Jaguars (5-9) don't want Jones-Drew to get away. The 5-foot-7, 208-pound back has 655 yards rushing this season, 484 yards receiving, 281 yards in kickoff returns and another 69 yards in punt returns. He's touched the ball 228 times and fumbled just once.
He has a knack for running into defenders and staying on his feet, has a desire to do whatever it takes to convert in short-yardage situations and has been the team's best blocker against blitzes.
Although coach Jack Del Rio said Jones-Drew was worthy of Pro Bowl consideration, the Jaguars were completely shut out of voting for the league's All-Star game Tuesday for the first time since the franchise's inaugural season in 1995. No starters. No first alternates. Not even a second alternate.
``I don't even care about the Pro Bowl because sometimes it's just off of hype,'' Jones-Drew said. ``It's not really off of who made plays this year.''
Jones-Drew certainly has made plays for Jacksonville the last three seasons. He has 2,364 yards rushing while splitting time with Fred Taylor, has 1,327 yards receiving, and trails only San Diego star LaDainian Tomlinson (58) in touchdowns since 2006.
o silence critics who question whether he can be an every-down back in the NFL.
``People can say whatever they want, but this is the only place I've never been an every-down back,'' said Jones-Drew, who has three of his seven 100-yard rushing games against Thursday night's opponent, Indianapolis. ``If they're not convinced yet, then I don't know what else I can do.''
Jones-Drew even suggested he does more than any other every-down back in the league because he plays on first and second downs, stays in on third downs, plays in short-yardage and goal-line situations, catches passes and returns punts and kickoffs.
The Jaguars don't need to be convinced of his value.
``He's an exciting football player,'' Del Rio said. ``It's real easy to see and appreciate his love for the game. I think it comes across. You can watch him on TV and see it. Certainly we see it every day in practice. He's got an infectious personality. He's really a young man that I call a champion because I think when you surround yourself with guys like that you're going to win championships.
``I think he's all about ball, doing all he can as a good teammate and very unselfish in his nature, and I just think he's a fine, fine football player.''
The Jaguars have a history of locking up guys they want to build around long before they become free agents. They did it with defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, cornerback Rashean Mathis, linebacker Daryl Smith, fullback Greg Jones, guard Vince Manuwai and quarterback David Garrard.
Jones-Drew could be next, although Del Rio declined to speculate on his future.
Then again, considering Jones-Drew is part of the 2006 draft class, he might not be able to go anywhere anytime soon. Guys who signed four-year contracts that year could end up playing six seasons under their rookie deals if there's no new collective-bargaining agreement.
``I'm not worried about that,'' Jones-Drew said. ``Everything will take care of itself. That's out my control. I can't do anything about that. If I could, it would have been done already, trust me. I would have had it done a long time ago.''