Monday, September 12, 2011
Maurice Jones-Drew upset by play count
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Maurice Jones-Drew is on a play count, and not happy about it.
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio is keeping tight tabs on his star running back early in the season, limiting his workload in an effort to keep him healthy.
"I just want to be out there, that's all," Jones-Drew said Monday, a day after Jacksonville's 16-14 victory against rival Tennessee. "I just want to go out there and compete with our guys. I've seen how hard they worked. I wanted to get back into the game and hit some people and deliver some more punishment."
Jones-Drew ran 24 times for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Titans, but he was on the sideline for much of the fourth quarter as teammate Deji Karim got most of the carries. Karim finished with 33 yards on 14 rushes, a 2.4 yards-per-carry average that had Jones-Drew itching to get back on the field.
Jones-Drew voiced his displeasure with Del Rio during and after the game, then made it clear to reporters he wanted to be on the field in crunch time.
"I love his competitive nature and love the fact that he's a workhorse and love the fact that he had a real solid start to our season," Del Rio said Monday.
Jones-Drew played 14 games with torn meniscus in his right knee last season. He missed the final two games after the pain became too much to play through, and had surgery in January.
The Jaguars were cautious with Jones-Drew's repetitions during training camp and the preseason, holding him out until the preseason finale. But Del Rio never said Jones-Drew would be kept off the field in the regular season. He never discussed it with Jones-Drew, either.
So the decision caught Jones-Drew by surprise Sunday.
"Everything is going to work out at the end of the day," said Jones-Drew, who also ended a streak of 66 consecutive games with a reception. "I was upset. I expressed myself. That's what I do. I'm not one to hide them. If you have a problem, you have to tell them. We're working on fixing it. That's all that matters."
Jones-Drew said he and Del Rio "worked things out," but neither offered details.
"A little give and take," Jones-Drew said.
Jones-Drew made it clear he wasn't being selfish. He's glad the Jaguars won and doesn't want to be a distraction heading into Sunday's game at the New York Jets. But he was blindsided by Del Rio's decision. It's even stranger considering the Jaguars openly talked with defensive end Aaron Kampman about reducing his plays after he missed 15 games the last two seasons because of knee injuries.
"Sometimes communication occurs where it needs to and where it has to, but the communication is good," Del Rio said.
Jacksonville's gameplan was to run the ball early and often. Not only is it what the Jaguars do best, but quarterback Luke McCown was starting his first game in four years, and Tennessee was playing without defensive ends Jason Jones and Derrick Morgan.
The Jaguars ran 47 times for 163 yards, helping them nearly double the Titans in time of possession.
Although Del Rio declined to say how many snaps he felt comfortable with Jones-Drew getting, he didn't want him to carry 35 times in the opener.
Jones-Drew had a 21-yard touchdown run on the team's first possession and even carried the ball on six consecutive plays late in the third quarter.
He had a chance to seal the game late in that period, but failed to score on three consecutive runs -- one from the 5-yard line and two from the 1.
"That was my fault," he said. "We've got to improve. I've got to run the guy over on both of those plays."