After a summer spent away from the Jaguars, running back Maurice Jones-Drew said he didn’t want another.
“I’m not gonna hold out again,” he told Albert Breer of the NFL Network, before stepping back from that particular ledge.
“I don’t think so, I wouldn’t do that,” Jones-Drew continued. “I don’t think I would. I mean, I’m saying that now — I don’t know how I’ll feel a couple months from now. But right now, I mean, I did what I thought I had to do. It didn’t work. Oh well.
“You know what upsets me, though: No one knows me on a personal level in this league. There are a couple players who know me on a personal level. So for people to make assumptions about me as a player, you have to know me as a person.”
While Jones-Drew gained nothing financially by staying away, and reportedly lost a significant chunk in fines (it may or may not have been $800,000), he has not shown any drop-off on the field.
He’s seventh in the league in rushing with 352 yards, averaging 18 carries a game and 4.9 yards per attempt. And that’s after entering the year as a backup. So if you were expecting rust, you missed that prediction as badly as he did in his quest for a new contract.
He said he took great care during his time away from the team to keep himself in shape, and bypassed treatment such as massages and cold tubs so he’d experience the soreness that was typical of training camp.
“The thing about it is when you are away, you have to be a professional about it,” he said. “You play football for 20 years, you should understand where your body needs to be in Week 1 to perform at an elite level. If you mentally put yourself in that state, you should be fine. Now, it’s tough to do that when you’re trying to fight for more money, I understand that. In a holdout, there are a lot of things that people don’t understand, that you’re trying to fight for, and it’s tough.
“The team’s telling you you’re not this, or you’re not that, and it’s mentally tough. But you have to be able to push through those things.”
Given the hard line the Jaguars drew in the sand this summer, there’s little reason to expect they’re going to voluntarily give him more money next year since he’s still under contract for 2013.
But even if he gained no money, he proved he’s able to bounce back and continue to perform at a high level.