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Jones-Drew scores high


Maurice Jones-Drew got his first taste of NFL-caliber punts, as Chris Hanson boomed the ball downwind, spiraling ever higher as Jones-Drew, the Jaguars' second-round draft choice, settled into position to make the catch.

"Punt-returning is all about being comfortable. When you're comfortable, you can do a lot of things," Jones-Drew said.

He certainly did a lot of things at UCLA, where Jones-Drew was the PAC 10's first team all-conference punt-returner. Reggie Bush was second team.

"When I was in college, I didn't have to fair-catch. Now I have to fair-catch," Jones-Drew said.

Jones-Drew, Chad Owens and Khalil Hill fielded punts at Sunday morning's special teams practice. They spiced up the competition by judging each other's efforts.

"I kept getting 9.9's. When they give you a 10, that means nothing was wrong. There were a couple (of 10's) today. I got one or two. I think me and Chad were tied," Jones-Drew added of the final score.

Owens was drafted in the sixth round in 2005 for the specific purpose of becoming the Jaguars' punt-returner, but Owens experienced a meltdown in Indianapolis in week two and was demoted to the practice squad. He'll try again this summer but, of course, he's up against a second-round pick with a high-profile reputation.

"That's my goal," Jones-Drew said when asked if he expects to become the Jaguars' featured return man. "Whatever it takes; I can do whatever they want me to do."

Jones-Drew also figures to compete for the roles of "third down" and "change of pace" running back. He's a multi-purpose player who interested a lot of teams prior to the draft, but obviously fell to the Jaguars late in the second round because of size concerns.

"Whenever I see them, I'm going to play like I'm 6-3," the 5-7 Jones-Drew said of the teams who were interested in him but passed. The Patriots, Colts and Steelers are three teams on the Jaguars' schedule this year that worked out Jones-Drew and expressed strong interest.

"He has great running ability. He's strong, breaks tackles and once he breaks them, he can take it the distance," special teams coordinator Pete Rodriguez said of Jones-Drew.

In this training camp, Rodriguez will work at refining his rookie's skills and fixing his flaws.

"Catching the football, he has a tendency to lock his feet and reach for the ball," Rodriguez said.

"He's unique. He's built like Brian Mitchell, but he has more speed than Mitchell. That'll be the big difference in kickoff returns. I think that's where he'll really shine. He's 220 pounds and when he hits it, he hits it. He has the thing you're looking for, the home run ball," Rodriguez said.

First, of course, Jones-Drew has to catch it.

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