JACKSONVILLE – Maurice Jones-Drew likes a lot about what he saw Wednesday.
And while the former Jaguars Pro Bowl running back said it may take time for the current roster to reach full potential, there's no doubting the potential of that potential.
"You have a ton of guys stepping up, playing well," Jones-Drew, who attended practice Wednesday in his role with the NFL Network, said following Day Two of Jaguars 2016 minicamp. "There's a ton of competition out there. It's different than it was when I was there.
"It's exciting to see that. I'm glad the Jags are moving in the right direction."
Jones-Drew, who played for the Jaguars from 2006-2013, has remained close with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley.
"They do things the right way here," Jones-Drew said. "I played for so many coaches and so many different styles."
Jones-Drew said Bradley's approach impressed him during the 2013 season, particularly when the team was struggling at 0-8. Bradley gave the players that week of practice off during the bye week following a loss to San Francisco in London, something Jones-Drew said spoke volumes about Bradley's approach.
"When Gus came in, I just remember the difference between Gus and [former head] coach [Mike] Mularkey and [former head] coach [Jack] Del Rio …" Jones-Drew said. "For him to stay positive in those situations … that to me was the biggest thing. Gus was like, 'Look, the ball hasn't bounced our way; we've done what we had to do; you guys have worked your butts off … you get a week off.'
"That was the biggest thing to me. You saw the way it paid off because we won four of the next five. He believed in us as players. That's the way you want to go about it."
Jones-Drew said he remains in touch with former teammates such as defensive tackles Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller through video games. He also remains close with his former Jaguars and UCLA teammate, tight end Marcedes Lewis.
"I'm excited for them," he said.
That's because of the talent level of the current roster, and the potential for the coming season. Jones-Drew said Wednesday there's no question the talent level has increased in four seasons under Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell.
"I think the expectations are high, as they should be," Jones-Drew said. "But we have to be real, too. Rome wasn't built in one night and it definitely wasn't built in three years. It's going to take a little bit more time with this young talent, but they've put themselves in position to be successful and that's what you want to do.
Images from the Jaguars second day of mandatory minicamp.
"You don't want to always count on young rookies to make plays, but I think they have the guys in the right position to do that. If they can get on a roll, especially with this culture and atmosphere here, it can spark something that could develop."
Jones-Drew said the key for the Jaguars' offense is increasing efficiency and reducing mistakes.
"They showed how explosive they were last year," Jones-Drew said. "You want to limit the turnovers, though. That's the big thing: holding onto the ball, protecting the ball. That's something Gus always preaches."
Jones-Drew also said he was impressed with the Jaguars' running backs group of T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory, Corey Grant, Denard Robinson and Jonas Gray.
"They have every type of running back," he said. "They finally got what they wanted. The season is so long that it's hard to see that workhorse like it used to be. This league is going toward having a ton of talent you can at the running back position because that's how you close out games.
"I think they've added the right pieces. It's all about getting those pieces to jell together and play as one."
Jones-Drew said the difference in practices from when he played also is noticeable.
"There's a lot of talking going on, which you always want to hear," he said. "That means guys are taking pride in their craft. … It's funny because I remember practices here. They weren't as loud and they weren't talkative and a lot of people don't like that. They don't like people jibber-jabbing and talking trash to each other, but that's what breeds competition. That's what makes players better.
"I'm excited to see what they can do. It will be exciting to see what these guys can do with all this talent."