Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Jags could miss Jones-Drew's blocking
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If Maurice Jones-Drew cannot play in Sunday's game against Buffalo because of a hamstring strain, that's obviously a huge blow to the running game.
But it's also a big problem for the passing game, as well.
Jones-Drew is one of the NFL's best backs in terms of pass-blocking and picking up blitzers. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones-Drew is the only running back in the NFL to not allow a quarterback pressure. He has picked up a rusher on each of the 100 snaps on which he has been tasked with blocking.
That's something in which he takes immense pride.
"To me that's what separates you from everybody else," said Jones-Drew, who has rushed for 719 yards and five touchdowns this season. "Everybody can run the ball and most guys can catch it and make plays with the ball in your hands but what you can do without the ball is what separates you. That's something people don't talk about."
Most fans don't appreciate it, either. Quarterback Chad Henne certainly does. He'll miss Jones-Drew more than anyone else if he can't play against the Bills.
"The biggest thing is that he's very smart so he understands where the pressures are coming from," Henne said. He's tough, he's physical, and if he needs to cut [block] he'll cut [block] and if he needs to stand up he'll stand up, so he's a really good third-down back."
If Jones-Drew is unable to play, first-year back Jordan Todman will take his place and be backed up by rookie Denard Robinson, a quarterback at Michigan who started the season at receiver before being moved to running back. Justin Forsett, a third-down specialist signed in March, was put on IR on Monday with a broken foot.
Coach Gus Bradley grimaced a bit when asked about his confidence level in Todman's blocking ability.
"Obviously [with] Maurice we feel better," Bradley said. "That's one of his things in third downs now. He's going to have to step it up if he's in one of those situations. ... I think he understands it. It's now, can he do it and if he is [on the field] we'll get it tested on Sunday."