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Jones-Drew: "I've never wanted to be a distraction to this team"


JACKSONVILLE – Maurice Jones-Drew couldn't discuss everything Monday.

But the Jaguars' three-time Pro Bowl running back said while he couldn't yet talk about the details of a May 26 incident in which he has been accused of punching a security guard, he did want to make one thing clear:

Whatever distraction the incident may have caused, he wished that hadn't happened.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Jones-Drew said during a press conference that lasted nearly 20 minutes at Everbank Field Monday afternoon. "This is a big distraction, and I never wanted to be that. I've never wanted to be a distraction to this team, period. I've always wanted to come out and do my job to the best of my ability and help this team win games as best I could."

Jones-Drew, making his first public comments since the incident, said he opted to speak Monday so the team could focus on the three-day minicamp scheduled Tuesday through Thursday at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.

Jones-Drew will attend that minicamp, but will not participate. He has been rehabilitating a foot injury that kept him out the last 10 games last season.

"I'd rather get it done today than take away from what these guys have been doing," he said.

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 May 26. The security guard's lawyer released a statement following the incident 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.

"I can't speak on it," Jones-Drew said. "It's an ongoing investigation...Once it's done, it will be done."

Jones-Drew said he was bothered by the effects the incident has had on his teammates, the Jaguars and his family.

"Not only has it affected myself and the Jaguars, it's affected my family as well," he said. "My kids go to school here. My wife is in town. They hear a bunch of the things as well. It's an unfortunate incident."

Jones-Drew during the press conference also said he believes he is on course physically, and that he hopes to be 100 percent when Jaguars training camp opens in late July.

"My plan is to be ready for training camp," he said. "I don't know if I'll be on the field that day but that's my plan, that's my goal – is to be on the field, running full speed at that time, and making the cuts I have to do and be ready to play ball."

Jones-Drew said he has remained in constant contact throughout the offseason with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell, saying he has talked to the duo more than he ever has talked to a coach/general manager duo in an offseason.

"We've had great communication," Jones-Drew said, adding, "That's a positive. The trust we've created from this situation I think is going to work better for everybody in the end."

Added Jones-Drew, "I've had a lot of support of the staff, and a lot of support from my teammates."

Jones-Drew, who is scheduled to become a free agent following this season, said he's not yet thinking about anything beyond 2013.

"I think we're all uncertain," he said. "All I can do is control what I can control, which is to come in in shape and come in and play at a high level."

Jones-Drew said while he plans to attend minicamp, he has not yet been cleared to practice. He underwent surgery in December, spent three months in a boot, then spent mid-April to late May in the Jaguars' offseason conditioning program.

He began training in South Florida in late May with the blessing of Bradley and Caldwell. Jones-Drew has trained in South Florida in each of his previous NFL offseasons, and he said if anything has bothered him this offseason it has been media reports doubting his ability to be healthy in time for next season.

"Throughout my seven years in the league, I've always played at a high level," Jones-Drew said. "I've trained down in South Florida the whole time. It's nothing new. I've come back in shape and done all these great things, and yet people still question my ability to play the game.

"That's upsetting. That's frustrating more than what we're all here for."

Jones-Drew continued, "I read reports that I'm fat and out of shape. Yes, that does happen when you can't walk for three months and you can't work out and you can't do certain things because you have to be able to protect your foot. That does happen, yes, but I've never put myself in a way to not be able to perform. Even last year when I didn't do anything, I came back and performed at the level I've performed since I've been here.

"I'm more frustrated about that than anything else. I've played at high level. I've prepared at a high level. I don't see any difference now."

Jones-Drew said while he gained weight early in the offseason, he has lost "a couple of pounds" in the last several weeks.

"I haven't stepped on a scale in a couple of weeks, but I feel great," he said.

Jones-Drew said he was able to cut full speed last Thursday, then do sled work on Friday. He also ran a mile on the beach on Saturday before returning to Jacksonville Sunday.

"Things are going on the right path," he said. "You're going to have some off days, where there is going to be some residual pain here and there, but as long as things are going in the right direction, I feel like it's going to be all right."

Jones-Drew said he has no pain in his foot "at all," and said one of the toughest parts of his return has been stiffness in his ankle from being in a boot for four months.

He said he spent a month after getting out of the boot "getting his walk back," then another month getting his running mechanics going. The rest of the offseason, he said, will be about getting his conditioning right to play a full season.

"I'm the kind of guy if I don't do anything, if I just sit around and eat, I'm going to gain weight," he said. "There are some guys who can do that and lose weight. I'm the total opposite. It's going to make it a tougher offseason for me, but I'll continue to work out, come back in shape and be ready to play."

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