JACKSONVILLE – Almost two weeks in, Maurice Jones-Drew feels good.
He won't say he feels "better than expected," because he didn't doubt he would return and play this season, but the Jaguars' three-time Pro Bowl running back is running well in 2013 training camp practice, and appears stronger each day.
That's true even though Jones-Drew spent the offseason rehabilitating a foot injury, and even though many observers wondered if he would be ready for training camp.
Jones-Drew, entering his eighth season, indeed was ready for training camp. He has practiced since day one, and said Wednesday he likes his progress.
Is he where he wants to be?
"Right now, yeah," Jones-Drew said Wednesday following practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. "I still have a lot to improve on, but as of right now, cutting and conditioning-wise, I feel like I'm right where I need to be."
Jones-Drew said he never worried through the offseason. And though speculation among observers was that he might not be ready for camp or the regular season because of the injury and an off-field incident in St. Augustine, tight end Marcedes Lewis said he has learned to not doubt his former college teammate.
"I'm not surprised," Lewis said. "He's the same guy I've been around for however many years – eight years here now, and three in college. That's just who he is. People would ask me about him and I'd say, 'Dude, as long as Maurice and his family are OK, everything else will work itself out.' The football stuff, I was never worried about. Everyone else said, 'Oh, adversity . . .' I was never worried about that.
"When Maurice puts his pads on, and he's well enough to be back there, he's not going to hurt himself or the team. It's not something I worry about."
Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing in 2011 after undergoing microfracture knee surgery. He said he wasn't fully healthy that season until October, but said Wednesday he didn't necessarily want to compare the two injuries.
"This is a different injury," he said, adding that dealing with the recovery process in 2011 has helped him mentally this season. "There's no pain in my foot. I'm cutting great. There's no swelling. It's back to normal again. I just want to continue on that path.
"The main thing with injury is taking the proper rest, and understanding what the doctor wants you to do – and that is rest. The first three months is rest. After that, you can work your way back into it. It's going to take some time, but you have to be patient."
*The Jaguars were awarded wide receiver Charly Martin off waivers from San Francisco to bring the roster to the NFL limit of 90 players. Martin (6-feet-1, 212 pounds), has played in 12 career games with one start and five receptions for 48 yards. He has spent time with San Diego, Carolina, Seattle and San Francisco. He was on the Jaguars' practice squad for the final four weeks in 2011. . . .
*Jones-Drew said of rookie Denard Robinson, who is playing wide receiver, quarterback, running back and kick returner: "He's doing a great job. They're asking him to do a lot of things right now, to learn a lot of different positions, to be able to command the offense. For him to do those things and not mess up is a big thing. He hasn't messed up in a while." . . .
*Robinson, a fifth-round selection, struggled with drops and fumbles early in camp. Those mistakes have been reduced significantly. "It's like asking one of you guys to play running back if you've never played running back before," Jones-Drew said. "It takes a while to get used to getting hit." Robinson played mostly quarterback at Michigan. "He has to get used to that," Jones-Drew said. "He had to get comfortable taking on hits and understanding running with the ball in traffic. He's going to be a playmaker for us." . . .
*Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley he will likely inform players on Thursday who will start in Friday's preseason opener against Miami.
*Bradley said he is pleased thus far with the Jaguars' injury situation during training camp, with nine players on the injury report. "I've never seen an injury report with just this low amount of guys on the injury report," Bradley said. "There will be some things we have to adjust but we're pleased in the direction it's going." Bradley said while there were a few strain-type injuries such as that sustained by wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (calf), the coaches are pushing players hard, with 93 practice plays on Monday and 70 on Tuesday. "They're getting quite a few plays," Bradley said.
*Bradley said of veteran wide receiver Mohammed Massaquoi, "I thought that he leveled off (Tuesday), but he did better. . . . He was challenged. I know he had a little strain . . . but maybe he was battling through that and felt better."