JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Maurice Jones-Drew won’t be relegated to the sideline for Jacksonville’s next preseason game.
The Jaguars plan to get their starting running back some carries Saturday night against the New York Jets. If so, it would be Jones-Drew’s first game action since injuring his left foot last October and his first preseason work since 2011.
“I understand I haven’t played in a while,” Jones-Drew said Wednesday. “Things have been going better than we thought. This is the right time to kind of take that next step. That’s all it is. I don’t think it’s more than that. I don’t think someone’s walking on water or someone cured cancer. Trust me. It’s just exciting to get out there and finally get some live reps and play with some guys and see what it’s like.”
Coach Gus Bradley held MJD out of the team’s preseason opener against Miami as a precaution, preferring to give the former UCLA standout more time to get in better shape.
“We would like to get him some playing time,” Bradley said. “How much will be decided in our meeting (Wednesday night). I feel a lot better about him this week than last week as far as getting him some reps.”
Jones-Drew had surgery in December to repair a Lisfranc injury. He was cleared to practice days before training camp. He went months without being able to run and didn’t do much on-field work during organized team activities. He was cleared to practice just days before training camp, but his repetitions have been limited. He’s been tackled to the ground just a few times during live drills in camp.
Jones-Drew has made it clear that he would like at least a few carries before the regular season.
“It was going to happen anyway either this week or next week,” he said. “I feel good. Things are going in the right direction. Just want to continue to go with that, get some live reps, see what it’s like and get ready for the regular season. I don’t see it as a big deal. It’s football. A lot of people come off injuries and come back to play football. It’s not a debut.”
Jones-Drew has done little in the preseason since his rookie year, when he carried 28 times for 130 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown on a 55-yard reception. He has 42 carries for 100 yards in the six preseasons since, including 11 carries for 12 yards over the least three years.
Regardless, he’s always been ready for the regular season.
Jones-Drew has averaged more than 1,000 yards rushing and nine touchdowns a year in seven NFL seasons. He led the league in rushing in 2011, when he finished with 1,606 yards and eight scores.
The Jaguars could be without six players at the Jets.
Linebacker Russell Allen (ankle), running back Justin Forsett (toe), defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick (groin), right tackle Luke Joeckle (hip), cornerback Jeremy Harris (back) and tight end Isaiah Stanback (hip) missed practice Wednesday and might not play.
“Those are the guys right there we’re contemplating what to do with as far as playing,” Bradley said. “We’ll have to make a decision.”