Oakland Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew Thinks He Has Something Left for 2015


Nov 2, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) tackles Oakland Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew (21) for a loss during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Oakland 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Maurice Jones-Drew has been on a steep decline over the past two seasons spent between his former team in the Jacksonville Jaguars and his hometown team in the Oakland Raiders. Once one of the NFL’s most underrated stars in the running game, MJD hasn’t been able to get to a 1000 yard plateau that used to be a guarantee for the serviceable running back who came out of the Bay Area’s De La Salle high school.

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In fact MJD hasn’t had a 1000 yard season since 2011, an injury suffered during the 2012 season pointing to the wind down of the running back’s production that has fallen off of a cliff in the past two seasons. Jones-Drew’s last season in Jacksonville saw him rush for just 803 yards on 3.4 yards per carry, which allowed him to come to Oakland on the cheap for the 2014 season which was touted as a homecoming for the former star who was hoping to turn back the clock with the Raiders back in the Bay Area.

That didn’t happen for Jones-Drew however as his production fell even further downwards last season, registering what was a rather sad 2.2 yards per carry for just 96 yards on 43 carries. In fact, Jones-Drew was lucky to make the roster and stay on it as a preseason Week 3 season ending injury to Kory Sheets may have prevented MJD from falling off the depth chart altogether with Darren McFadden and Latavius Murray relegating the former Jaguar to a role in which he rarely got into the backfield.

It should be said that MJD’s season began with a broken hand injury against the New York Jets in Week 1 that really hurt his chances of a comeback season, but now looking towards 2015 it appeared that the Raiders would be likely to cut the running back for salary cap space during free agency. Those plans have changed with his former head coach in Jack Del Rio being hired in Oakland, something that might be giving him a new lease on life with the Raiders.

During a media lunch this past week, Del Rio touched on his former running back’s status. Commenting that his former workhorse in the backfield needs to stay in shape if he feels that he has something left and wants to make the 53 man roster this upcoming season.

“He thinks he does (have something left),” Del Rio said of Jones-Drew. “That’s something we need to find out. The first thing would be that he keeps his weight where it needs to be. So he can be explosive again.

Del Rio did also note that he has a good relationship with the veteran, who he knows will give everything he has for him should he make the roster based on his experience with Jones-Drew in Jacksonville where the duo made the playoffs twice and upset the Pittsburgh Steelers during one of those postseason runs.

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“I loved the time we had together in Jacksonville,” Del Rio said according to SF Gate’s Vic Tafur. “He was one of the true warriors I had on the football field. He gave everything he had to the football team, and I will expect the same kind of commitment from all of our players here in Oakland.”

Even if Jones-Drew has a good relationship with Del Rio, it is unlikely that he will make the roster unless he severely improves upon his 2014 play during training camp and the preseason. A shell of his former self and far less explosive than he once was, Jones-Drew appears to be a likely cut come the late summer when the 53 man roster is named.

Throw in the likely addition of a free agent and a potential draft pick into the mix and it is very hard to see MJD in the Oakland backfield come Week One of the 2015 NFL season. If it does happen it will be a mix of hard work and a relationship with Del Rio that gives Jones-Drew another season in his career, but first he will have to prove to the new Raiders head coach that he has something in the tank, something that might just be impossible with many believing that the running back just simply has nothing left to give in the NFL at this point in his career.