Maurice Jones-Drew was once one of the NFL’s best, if not most underrated running backs at the peak of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rushing for three double digit touchdown seasons (2006, 2008, 2009) and three 1,000 yard seasons (2009, 2010, 2011) MJD was the star of Jacksonville’s offense before injury slowed him down in his contract year last season.
Last season MJD returned from his injury plagued 2012 and looked like his former self despite topping over 800 yards in 15 games with the Jaguars. A career-low average of 3.4 yards per carry in 2013 had Jones-Drew considering retirement when NFL teams showed low interest in the veteran running back during free agency before he signed with his hometown team in Oakland.
“For awhile, I was contemplating retirement because I just didn’t feel like I had it anymore,” Jones-Drew told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month. “But that wasn’t the case. My trainer helped me get back in shape and gain that foundation that I’d lost with the surgery.”
MJD mentioned that watching game tape of his 2013 questioned his ability to still be the former player who was a consistent producer of rushing yardage while in Jacksonville.
“I watched the same tape and I’d say, ‘Man, why’d I do this? Why didn’t I do that?’” he said. “Part of it was, just physically, I wasn’t able to do some of the same things I’m used to doing.”
2014 is an important year for Jones-Drew, who is looking to take advantage with an opportunity to remain as a feature back in Oakland much like his old backup Rashad Jennings did in 2013. With a good chance to be a featured running back in Greg Olson’s offense alongside fellow criticized rusher Darren McFadden, Jones-Drew has likely his last opportunity to prove to the league as well as himself that he can still be a top running back. Playing in the Bay Area where he became famous as a highly touted prospect, MJD’s homecoming kept him from hanging up the cleats early. Still under the age of 30 and motivated to prove to himself he still has it, MJD doesn’t seem to be done producing on Sunday’s