MJD looking to shed weight this year
MJD wants to play at his college weight of 205
Maurice Jones-Drew has a fairly lofty goal for his rehabilitation.
The Jacksonville Jaguars running back wants to trim down to 205 pounds, his college playing weight.
"I've got a long ways to go," he said Thursday after a three-day voluntary minicamp.
The former UCLA standout figures once he can start running every day in Florida's heat and humidity - he's sprinting every other day right now - those extra few pounds will start to shed.
"I'm going to put pressure on myself to come back in great shape and be the best player I have been or even better," said Jones-Drew, who hopes to running full speed by June. "That's just me pushing myself."
Jones-Drew wasn't sure how much he weighed during minicamp, but since doctors have limited his workouts following surgery to repair a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot in December, he's surely heavier than the 217 pounds he played at last season.
Coach Gus Bradley seemed surprised when told about MJD's goal.
"I don't get too caught up in that," Bradley said. "Where he feels good is the biggest thing, where he feels comfortable. ... I haven't addressed that with him. But basically I told him just continue to get better, continue to condition, rehab and do those things. Again, just the process and it will come."
For the first time in eight years, Jones-Drew is in Jacksonville for the team's offseason conditioning program.
He took classes at UCLA this spring, moving closer to getting his degree, and then returned to Jacksonville for workouts, minicamp and organized team activities.
It's a change from last season, when he skipped the team's entire offseason program in hopes of getting a new contract.
The Jaguars didn't budge, refusing to renegotiate since he had two years remaining on a five-year deal worth $31.5 million. He made $4.45 million last season and is due $4.95 million this year.
Given his age (he's 28) and his contract status, it's no surprise Jones-Drew would like to get in the best shape of his career.
General manager Dave Caldwell said last week the team has no desire to trade Jones-Drew and might consider keeping him in Jacksonville beyond the final year of his contract.
"It was nice to hear," Jones-Drew said. "I try my best not to focus on what's going on on the outside. The business side is going to take care of itself. Granted, if I would have played the whole year the way I started it, I think we'd be in a different situation right now."
Jones-Drew led the league in rushing in 2011. He had with 414 yards and a touchdown last season before missing the final 10 games with the foot injury.
Jones-Drew could have opted for surgery right away and might be back running by now. Instead, the team held out hope his foot would heal on its own and he would return later in the losing season.
MJD wasn't pleased with the delay, which was another in a long list of mistakes for former general manager Gene Smith and coach Mike Mularkey. Both were fired after the season.
Even though those dismissals led to a rebuilding project and plenty of roster upheaval, Jones-Drew has been pleased with the outcome. The new, up-tempo offense features a zone-blocking scheme, the kind that has enjoyed rushing success in Denver, Houston and elsewhere.
"You get the ball in the players' hands quickly, whether it's run, pass, whatever," Jones-Drew said. "Just get the ball out, which protects your offensive line, your quarterback and makes your playmakers more viable. Those are things you're excited about."
And the possibility of winning. Jones-Drew and the Jaguars are 27-53 over the last five years, the kind of losing stretch that has frustrated Jones-Drew as much as his recent injuries.
"It's tough, but I'm older now so I'm not like I used to be," he said. "It used to drive me crazy losing. Now, especially being one of the older guys, I tell everyone to use those losses to fuel you, to get better.
"Gus probably doesn't like me saying this, but you have to hate losing more than you love winning because that's what drives you in practice."
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