JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley was absolutely disappointed in the situation in which Maurice Jones-Drew found himself.
But while the Jaguars' first-year head coach said that was true, he also said he was encouraged by how Jones-Drew – the team's three-time Pro Bowl running back – handled the aftermath of his recent off-field issue with the team.
Bradley said what he preaches with players in that situation is communication.
On that front, Bradley said he has been pleased with Jones-Drew.
"The one thing I stress with our guys is communication," Bradley said Tuesday following the Jaguars' seventh 2013 organized team activities practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields adjacent to EverBank Field.
"I'm not naïve that situations won't come up, but I've really challenged our guys on communication: communicate with us, communicate with the trainers, anything that goes in. He has done that. He's done a good job.
"I'm disappointed in the situation, that it occurred, but I'm not as far as the communication that's taken place."
Jones-Drew, a Pro Bowl selection in 2009-2011 and the NFL's leading rusher in 2011, has been accused of punching a security guard at the Conch House in St. Augustine on Sunday, May 26. The security guard's lawyer released a statement last week saying he had video evidence of Jones-Drew punching his client.
Jones-Drew has not been charged for the incident, and Jones-Drew's agent – Adisa Bakari – told Adam Schefter of ESPN that Jones-Drew was not involved. The St. Augustine Police Department has said Jones-Drew maintains his innocence.
"If I was out with a group of friends and something happened with that group of friends, the person they're going to blame is me," Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "I'm hoping that that's the case. In the long time since I've known Maurice, he's never been one to act out in that way. It's unfortunate."
Lewis, a college teammate of Jones-Drew's at UCLA, said he texted Jones-Drew following the incident offering support if needed. He said he hasn't heard back from Jones-Drew.
"It's unfortunate," Lewis said. "The only thing you want to do is come here, get your job done and stay out of the headlines. I know that's important to him, too, so on that end, he's struggling right now. My job is to be there for him and hope he gets through it all right."
Jones-Drew, who missed 10 games with a foot injury last season, underwent surgery in December. After being in the team's offseason workout program from mid-April to late May, he had been in Miami rehabilitating and training with the team's blessing for a week before the incident.
"As far as him being back up here, I wasn't aware of it, but I'm not surprised," Bradley said. "He has family up here. His family is here. The thing I look at it is OTAs – they are voluntary. I understand that part of it. I wasn't aware of it, but I'm not surprised he made the trip back up here to be with his family as well."
Jones-Drew is continuing to work out in Miami this week, and Bradley said he expects Jones-Drew to attend the team's mandatory minicamp next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Lewis said he doesn't expect Jones-Drew's off-field issues to be a distraction.
"Not (for) this team," Bradley said. "We do a good job of keeping it tight around here. Obviously, it happened. Maurice is our family. We're going to be there in a positive light, not a negative light, and hope that when he gets back we can move on and play some football."
Bradley said while he was disappointed with Jones-Drew, he also looks at such situations as opportunities to further establish his vision for the organization.
"I look at it as, 'OK, here's another situation, now get up in front of the team and make it real how we're going to visit with these things," Bradley said. "I didn't specifically talk about Maurice's situation in our team meeting. They understand things are out there, but I didn't want it to be a distraction from our practice."
Bradley said the Jaguars will continue to monitor the situation.
"He's communicating, and that's a big part of trust," he said. "We'll take a look at the situation as it continues to unfold, and we'll make our decisions off of that."
Bradley said Head Athletic Trainer Mike Ryan has been in touch with Jones-Drew's trainer in Miami, and that his understanding is Jones-Drew's weight has been coming down in recent weeks.
"We've had some communication and it feels like the workouts are going well," he said.
Bradley said while he didn't want to speak for Jones-Drew, he said in their conversations that Jones-Drew has sounded as if he's disappointed the situation occurred.
"He was concerned about the momentum of the team," he said. "Things were going good. He felt like he was a leader. He has not been a guy who this has happened to. Now it has occurred, so he was disappointed in that fact, but I think he's waiting to see how it unfolds as well."