JACKSONVILLE – Maurice Jones-Drew had to be pleased.
And all in all, the Jaguars' three-time Pro Bowl running back said he indeed was relatively happy Friday following the first practice of 2013 Training Camp.
Jones-Drew got decent work in, accomplished his offseason goal of returning in time to be ready for training camp, and did enough that he said he feels good about the state of his rehabilitated foot and his conditioning moving forward during this camp and preseason.
"I felt like today was good," he said Friday shortly after the Jaguars' two-hour practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.
"I just want to build off this and go into tomorrow feeling great."
Jones-Drew, the NFL's leading rusher in 2011, missed 10 games last season after sustaining a sprained foot Week 6 in Oakland. He underwent foot surgery late in the season, and missed the Jaguars' offseason program, though he attended meetings and practice during much of organized team activities and minicamp.
Jones-Drew worked with the first-team offense throughout much of practice Friday, though he said he didn't participate fully in all drills.
"He's right where we thought he would be," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "We're going to continue to work him and monitor his reps, but we'll bring him along. It's good. It was great to see him back out there. I know he had a lot of excitement. He's been waiting for this day for a long time but it was good. It was more of us just holding him back than anything."
Jones-Drew's return shouldn't come as a surprise. He insisted throughout the offseason that he would return for training camp, and bristled at observers who doubted he would play at a high level.
Jones-Drew said he drew parallels to 2011, when he missed much of the offseason after undergoing microfracture knee surgery, returning to lead the NFL in rushing and set a franchise-record with 1,606 rushing yards that season. While he said the offseasons weren't identical, they were similar enough to have given him confidence he could return.
"I went through this before, where I was on PUP the first few weeks (in 2011)," Jones-Drew said. "It's pretty much the same timetable, where you just work your way back into it, practice here and there. The only difference now is I have to do extra cardio in the afternoon, but that's something I was going to do."
Jones-Drew said he progressed and felt more comfortable Friday the more he worked.
"I felt like my old self later in practice," he said.
Jones-Drew said he felt particularly good following his last play.
"I made a cut, got north, and felt like I did some old stuff," he said, adding that he felt a burst on the play and was able to open his stride a bit. "I just have to continue and stay on that track. It just feels comfortable making those cuts and knowing there's no pain in the foot, ankle, wherever. It's just a natural cut and I keep playing."
*Defensive end Jason Babin is being limited early in training camp, but said he is optimistic about his return from offseason groin surgery. He said he doctors have told him the area he injured will be stronger than before the surgery, and he said he is feeling that already. Doctors told him they essentially fileted muscle over a tendon near his pelvic bone in the surgery, making the area stronger.
*Bradley called some of the decision-making by the quarterbacks Friday "unacceptable in our standards," but said overall the play from the position was "good."
*Both Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert each had interceptions during practice. "Some of the interceptions, I think were missed assignments by receivers but then there were times where we have to make good decisions," Bradley said "The decisions weren't acceptable in our standards. Blaine and Chad both understand that. We've got to tighten those things up and I know some of those things are going to happen. We're going to coach them up and try to eliminate them.""
*Bradley said cramps were an issue in the 88 degree temperatures, with safety Josh Evans, wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and wide receiver Jamal Miles among those missing plays with cramps.
*Bradley on Cecil Shorts III, who caught between 10-and-15 passes in the first practice of training camp: "Doesn't he compete, man? He competes and competes."
*Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert left practice after colliding with cornerback Alan Ball near the goal line on a pass play late in the morning practice. He was helped off the field. "He went in," Bradley said. "I know they took a look at him. I think he got his bell rung a little bit but they said his symptoms were good."
*Bradley on rookie fifth-round selection Denard Robinson: "He's a work in progress. He's got tremendous ability but we've just got to continue to refine him and I think from OTA's and mini-camps and now he's made really good progress. He's got to continue to do that."
*Robinson caught a pass in practice, but also dropped one, and Bradley said consistency is an issue for the rookie. "The players on the team when he's on the field and the other ten guys on offense have got to be able to trust him and he's got to continue to build that trust," Bradley said.