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Training Camp 2013: Jones-Drew cleared to practice


JACKSONVILLE – Maurice Jones-Drew has been medically cleared.

Exactly how extensively the three-time Pro Bowl running back will participate isn't yet known, but Jones-Drew will be able to practice when the Jaguars open 2013 training camp Friday morning at EverBank Field.

"We're extremely excited about the progress he has made," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said, with Jones-Drew adding: "It's a good sign."

The news came the same day Bradley addressed the media for the first time in preparation for training camp, announcing that in addition to wide receiver Justin Blackmon, rookie guard Stephane Milhim and veteran wide receiver Taylor Price will begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien was also declared to the Non-Football Injury list

Blackmon, a second-year wide receiver, had been expected by many to start camp on PUP, having undergone groin surgery in early July.

Cyprien's status was more of a surprise, with Bradley saying the rookie safety and 2013 second-round draft selection sustained a hamstring injury while training last week.

Bradley said the hope is Cyprien will begin practicing next week, adding of Blackmon: "We'll wait and see. It might be a little longer."

"We'll be smart with those guys," Bradley said.

Veteran defensive end Jason Babin, expected to start at the team's Leo position, also has been cleared to practice. As is the case with Jones-Drew, Babin could be brought along slowly in camp, according to Bradley.

"You'll see him getting on the field, but we'll be smart with him and how we do it as well," Bradley said.

Jones-Drew's status had been an offseason issue since he underwent foot surgery last December.

Jones-Drew, the NFL's leading rusher in 2011, missed the last 10 games of last season after sustaining the injury in an October game at Oakland. He underwent surgery late in the season and although he attended the offseason program for the first time since his rookie year, he did not participate.

Jones-Drew, who spent the last few weeks of the offseason training in South Florida, has not played or practiced in 10 months.

"Now, it's back to football," he said Tuesday. "It's been a long time coming. I'm excited to be out there running and around and playing."

Jones-Drew said his participation level will be "up to the coaches."

"We've talked throughout the whole summer how rehab has been going and how my workouts and training have been going," he said. "Whatever they want me to do. Obviously, not playing football for 10 months, I'm a little out of football shape. I feel like after a week or two I'll be where I need to be."

Jones-Drew, who said he was around 230 pounds during the team's offseason program in May and June, declined to provide his specific weight Tuesday. He said he has lost weight, and that he would like to lose more. He said he hopes to start the season between 212-to-215 pounds.

Jones-Drew said he opened last season around 217.

"I lost a lot of weight, but not everyone's exactly where they want to be," he said. "That comes from me getting in football shape as well, just going out there and practicing I'll drop a little bit more. I don't need to drop much, just maybe a little more so I can be comfortable and ready to play."

Jones-Drew said while practice will be critical, he can go either way on participating extensively in preseason games.

"The main focus is getting back to practice, working hard in practice and getting used to that tempo," he said. "Whatever the coaching staff decides for me to go in preseason I'll be ready to go."

And when the time comes to play, Jones-Drew doesn't doubt he'll be ready.

"I'm the same guy," he said. "That's how I've been training, the same way, like I wasn't hurt. For me, not playing football for 10 months, not wearing pads, not having that soreness – that's the thing you want to get used to. Other than that, everything's natural."

Jones-Drew, who said a much-publicized off-field incident this offseason in St. Augustine is now behind him, said he also enters the season unconcerned about his future. He is entering the last season of his contract, and Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has said the team will not address upcoming unrestricted free agents until after the 2013 regular season.

"Every year is a big year," Jones-Drew said. "You take care of what matters first, which is on the field, and everything else has its place. That's all I'm going to do."

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