JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley publicly addressed the accusations involving running back Maurice Jones-Drew for the first time Tuesday but shied away from making that a point of emphasis to players in town for organized team activities.
Bradley told reporters he “didn’t specifically talk about Maurice’s situation” at a meeting before the first of the Jaguars’ four scheduled OTAs this week. Jones-Drew, who was not present because he was given permission to train in south Florida, is accused of punching a restaurant security guard May 25 in St. Augustine but has yet to be charged by police.
“They understand there are things out there,” Bradley said. “But I didn’t want it to be a distraction from our practice.”
The first-year coach said Jones-Drew called him last week and expressed regret about becoming the center of unwanted attention. The news concerning the NFL’s leading rusher in 2011 came barely a month after the league announced that wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the Jaguars’ top draft pick a year ago, will be suspended without pay for the first four regular-season games this fall for violation of the substance-abuse policy.
“I’m not naïve that situations won’t come up,” Bradley said. “But I really challenged our guys to communicate with us, communicate with the trainers about anything that goes on.”
The other noteworthy absence at the OTA was defensive end Jason Babin. Bradley said Babin underwent surgery on his groin in Philadelphia and won’t be available any earlier than the start of training camp. Babin’s absence could create more of an opportunity for 2012 second-round pick Andre Branch to impress an almost entirely revamped coaching staff.