In fact, the last time Jones-Drew spent the offseason rehabilitating he had more obstacles – and that season turned out OK. When Jones-Drew is asked about 2013 Jaguars training camp and being ready despite participating sparingly in the offseason program, he has little doubt.
Getting ready, he said, is the reason he’s spending at least the next few weeks in South Florida rather than Jacksonville.
“That’s why I went down there,” Jones-Drew said Tuesday evening while attending a Children’s Miracle Network function at the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Jacksonville.
“I feel like it gives me the best opportunity to be 100 percent. I want to be a certain percentage by now. I’m getting to that point.”
Jones-Drew, a Pro Bowl selection from 2009-2011, missed the last 11 games of last season with a foot injury. The rehabilitation from that injury has kept him out of much of the Jaguars’ voluntary offseason workout program, though Jones-Drew has been present at EverBank Field during the workouts.
Jones-Drew this week began working with Pete Bommarito at Bommarito Performance in Miami. Jones-Drew has worked with Bommarito throughout his NFL career, having been recommended to him by former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor.
Jones-Drew typically has trained in Miami in the offseason, returning to Jacksonville for mandatory minicamps.
“I’ve always trained down there,” Jones-Drew said. “This is the first time I’ve ever been here. I know last year a lot of people were like, ‘Oh, he’s not here.’ I’ve never been to OTAs. I’d always come to minicamp and go down to Miami and train, so it’s no different.”
Jones-Drew said whereas NFL rules limit how much work he could do if he remained at EverBank for OTAs, he can train longer each day away from the facility in South Florida. He said trainers there are in constant contact with Jaguars trainers.
“Down there, I have no limitations,” he said. “I can go out there and train all day and take seven hours. Here, if we take seven hours the PA (NFL Players Association) and the NFL has to do certain things. So, I was like, ‘I’ll go down there, get one-on-one treatment and get ready to come back and play in August.”
Jones-Drew said he is drawing in part from past experience during his rehabilitation. He spent the 2011 offseason rehabilitating from microfracture knee surgery, and then led the NFL in rushing that season. He was unable to run until July of that offseason.
“The difference is I can run now,” Jones-Drew said. “In 2011, I wasn’t able to run until July. Now, I can run a little earlier. It’s a different injury, but being able to run is going to help me get back and I’ll be able to focus on certain things I’ll be able to do different from last year.”
Jones-Drew said he’s running now, and working to get back into playing shape.
“As long as I’m able to train in July like I usually do, I feel like I’ll be all right,” Jones-Drew said. “I feel like the way we started down there I have the opportunity to do that.”
Jones-Drew said he essentially had to teach himself how to run again in 2011, and didn’t begin practicing until mid-August. He doesn’t yet have a timeframe for his return this season, but he said Tuesday he liked the start he had this week.
“The big thing about 2011 is I couldn’t get my speed back,” Jones-Drew said. “I was able to get my agility back, but that comes back quick. This is trying to get my speed back. This year, I have more time to do that and that’s why I’m going down to Miami.”
Jones-Drew is entering the final year of his contract, but while he held out of training camp last offseason, he said his focus this season is on the field.
“I just want to win,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’ve been here eight years and two years we’ve won. I know I’ve said it before, but I just want to win games. At the end of day, if I don’t play well and we win games, I’m happy. If I play and we win games, I’m happy.
“I know a lot of these younger guys haven’t been part of a winning team. That’s what it’s all about. When you’ve lost for so long, that hunger to win, that desire to win, is what drives you.”