The news Maurice Jones-Drew received early Tuesday evening came with a certain amount of disappointment.
But that feeling had nothing to do with where he ranked in the Pro Bowl voting.
Jones-Drew, the NFL's leading rusher through 15 games, on Tuesday evening was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team for a third consecutive season, and although he made it as a reserve, he said not being a starter for a second consecutive season didn't bother him.
That he is going alone? Well, yes, he said, that did bother him – more than a little.
"That's very disappointing," Jones-Drew said shortly after the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl teams were announced. "We've been the most consistent team throughout the year running the ball. To go against the defenses we've been going against, you never see any other team do that."
While Jones-Drew was named to the Pro Bowl for the third time in as many seasons as the Jaguars' full-time starting running back, he said he was disappointed that players such as fullback Greg Jones and members of the Jaguars' offensive line were overlooked.
"It's definitely disheartening that none of the guys who have busted their butts for me, especially Greg and a lot of these other guys, don't get an opportunity," he said. "I'll definitely try to get them out there so they can enjoy it with me."
Jaguars fullback Montell Owens was named a first alternate as a special teams player, with Jones named as a second alternate and kicker Josh Scobee named as a third alternate.
Ray Rice of Baltimore was named the AFC starter at running back, and Houston Texans running back Arian Foster also made the team as a backup.
Jones-Drew has rushed for 1,437 yards and eight touchdowns on 318 carries, with Foster having rushed for 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns on 268 carries. Rice has rushed for 1,173 yards and 10 touchdowns on 267 carries.
Rice also has 74 receptions for 696 yards three touchdowns while Jones-Drew has 42 receptions for 370 yards and three touchdowns.
Jones-Drew said being named as a backup versus being a starter mattered little, and said there may have been a bit of karma in play. Jones-Drew was named the AFC's starter last season, a year in which NFL rushing champion Arian Foster of Houston was named as an AFC backup.
"I was the starter last year, and Arian Foster obviously deserved it," Jones-Drew said. "It depends on how the people vote. Ray Rice is a very good running back who is versatile, and we've seen his team lose when he doesn't touch the ball. He definitely deserves it."
The Jaguars beat the Ravens, 12-7, on Monday Night Football in October, a game in which Jones-Drew rushed for 105 yards on 30 carries. Rice rushed for 28 yards on eight carries in that game.
Jones-Drew with one game remaining leads the NFL in rushing by 128 yards over LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia. Foster is the NFL's third-leading rusher, 213 yards behind Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks, said he has thought little about the rushing title, and called the idea of winning it bittersweet.
"We've always tried to get victories first," Jones-Drew said. "That was going to come with it. Hopefully, we can just continue working to get better and this can be another stepping stone for our running game. We've always had a top running game, the six years I've been here, and this is another example of what we can do – even against loaded boxes."
Jones-Drew said Tuesday he took pride in the effort and consistency of the Jaguars' offensive line and blockers such as Jones and tight end Marcedes Lewis in difficult circumstances. With the Jaguars' passing offense struggling much of the season, Jones-Drew often ran against defenses stacking eight and nine players at the line of scrimmage to defend against the run.
"There is no quit in our team," he said. "We face eight- and nine-man boxes every week, so in order to get that and be up in the top of the league in rushing despite there always being two or three extra guys in the box – it definitely shows our doing a great job and they deserve the recognition of being one of the top offensive lines in the game. . .
"When you go into the game and people know you're going to run the ball, and they try to do everything they can and you're still able to rush for 100 yards, that's big. We just want to continue to grow and build off that, become more of a balanced offense and win games in the upcoming year."
Jones-Drew became the fourth player in Jaguars history to be named to three consecutive Pro Bowls. The others were left tackle Tony Boselli (1996-2000), wide receiver Jimmy Smith (1997-2001) and defensive tackle Marcus Stroud (2003-2005).
"I'm just happy to be a part of the roster again," Jones-Drew said. "Being my third time, it's obviously exciting."
*Jones-Drew said he also gave each of the Jaguars' offensive linemen and blockers such as Jones and Lewis Gucci watches as late-season gifts, with the starters from that group receiving watches with black diamonds around the face. "I just wanted to show the appreciation I have for what they've done for me," Jones-Drew said. "I just wish they could get the recognition they deserve."
*Jones-Drew took time on conference call to mention entire starting offensive line, as well as reserves such as rookie tackle Cameron Bradfield and tight end Zach Potter. "Those guys do a hell of a job," Jones-Drew said.