Having been snubbed in rookie of the year voting may turn out to be a blessing for Maurice Jones-Drew. It'll help keep him grounded after a record-setting season that included a franchise-best 2,250 all-purpose yards and a rookie-high 16 touchdowns.
Big head? No, Vince Young took care of that. The Titans quarterback claimed the NFL rookie of the year award and Jones-Drew confessed that it bothered him that he didn't win the award.
"It did. I felt as an offensive player I did everything a rookie is not supposed to do," Jones-Drew said, referring to a litany of achievements, including have nearly rushed for 1,000 yards (941). His all-purpose yards are the third-most by a rookie in NFL history.
"I know the fans in Jacksonville know what I've done and appreciate it," he said.
Jones-Drew wants acclaim for the Jaguars. He seeks great exposure for the team and himself and he knows how to get it.
"As a team, you want to be noticed. The more you're noticed, the more it helps morale. We're going to be hungry. We have the talent. It's just a matter of putting the intangibles together; fighting through adversity. It doesn't seem like much but last year that's what hurt us," he said.
Jones-Drew will reunite with his running mate on Friday when all-time Jaguars leading rusher Fred Taylor reports to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for the start of this weekend's mini-camp. Taylor, of course, is the team's featured running back. Jones-Drew is Taylor's complement and the two came within 69 yards last season of becoming only the fifth pair in NFL history to each rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Taylor had one of his best seasons last year. His 1,146 yards rushing came at a 5.0 yards-per-carry clip, and Jones-Drew's presence was a big factor in Taylor still having fresh legs late in the season. In the "senior years" of his career, Taylor welcomes the help. Sharing the load should help extend his career.
"When Fred's time comes, I'll be ready to take over," Jones-Drew said.
Being ready at all times is something in which Jones-Drew prides himself. He also shared time at UCLA, which was probably the product of his diminutive size. A guy who's 5-7 isn't supposed to be durable enough to carry the load.
"It's hard to get into a rhythm," he said of having to come off the bench for a few carries here and there. "You have to make plays right away. That's what I learned at UCLA. It helped me out."
Jones-Drew is always ready to go. It's what made him a rookie sensation and he says he'll have the same attitude for his second season.
"We beat some great teams (last year) and we got a little overconfident," he said. "We have to be that hungry dog. If we keep that mentality, we'll be pretty good."
The Jaguars concluded their three-day "Passing Camp" with a Thursday-morning workout that included a highlight play here and there, though defense, as usual, dominated the session.