Maurice Jones-Drew's not talking contract, except to say this:
He's not talking contract.
Jones-Drew, the Jaguars running back who on Wednesday evening was named the No. 12 player on the NFL Network's "Top 100: Players of 2012," told the network that his absence from minicamp in mid-June was indeed contract-related.
Jones-Drew hadn't previously publicly discussed his absence, adding that he didn't want to say much more about the issue because "to talk about it in the media is not going to help."
"What I can say about it is this is the side of the NFL that is just as real as Sunday: it's the business side," Jones-Drew said in a telephone interview with the network. "It doesn't get publicized as much as on the field and the Top 100 and those things, and this is what the NFL is really about. What I can say is that I hope that we can get something done . . .
"Hopefully we can have something where we can be able to get out there and play in the future."
Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said shortly before the team's June 12-14 minicamp the team did not plan to renegotiate with Jones-Drew, who has two years remaining on his current deal.
Jones-Drew spent most of the interview talking about last season, when he set a franchise rushing record, and about Jaguars second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
"We always want to be the best and that's what we strive for, and that's why we work the best we can and play the way we play," said Jones-Drew, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,606 yards and eight touchdowns after undergoing knee surgery the previous offseason.
"I'm very honored to be at No. 12; obviously I moved up a little from last year [when he ranked No. 30]. I was a little angry last year because I was dealing with some surgery deals."
Jones-Drew also thanked players who spoke about him during the show revealing Nos. 11-20 on the list, a list of players that included Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny and former Steelers linebacker James Farrior.
"To have the respect of my teammates and the guys in the league, it's a big deal," Jones-Drew said.
Jones-Drew, as he did throughout last season, spoke highly of Gabbert, saying the team's No. 32 offensive ranking last season "wasn't Blaine's fault."
"There are no excuses for how we played because we're professionals, but Blaine stuck in there," Jones-Drew said. "He played through a lot of injuries, he played through a lot of things that people didn't know about. We had about five or six different sets of receivers playing and he never complained. He came to work every day and he did a good job, and you can grow off that.
"So when I hear guys write stuff about him, I'm very vocal. There are some things that I want to say, but those are said for closed doors with those people. Blaine deserves a lot of credit for what he did. He stuck in there, we played through a tough year and it's good for him because he knows how hard the league can be.
"He's working as hard as he can right now, I've talked with him and we'll be ready."
Jones-Drew, added, "A quarterback is only as good as the players around him. As players around him, we felt like we didn't get our job done for Blaine [last year]. That was our focus this year, to get back and get going."
Jones-Drew also credited the Jaguars' offensive line, as well as tight end Marcedes Lewis and fullback Greg Jones, for a third consecutive season over 1,300 yards rushing and a third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance.
"Those guys blocked their butts off and to go against nine, ten-man boxes and to create some type of lane to get things going, I give all of this credit to them because they deserve everything," he said. "I don't know if anyone has ever gone against a nine-man box before in this league but we saw it every week. We were creating holes and I was able to make plays and get yards.
"The offensive line has done a great job and we just want to keep building off of that."