With something to prove, Jones-Drew is unstoppable - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

With something to prove, Jones-Drew is unstoppable

JACKSONVILLE -- Maurice Jones-Drew was a rolling ball of butcher knives last season. Fresh out of the box from UCLA, the second-round pick (60th overall) scored 16 touchdowns, ran for 941 yards and caught 46 passes for an 8-8 Jacksonville Jaguars team.

For a 5'7", 208 pounder who felt shortchanged on draft day because of his size, there was a large measure of vindication in that performance.

But Jones-Drew must remain vigilant. And on this Friday afternoon, he's wary of the photo shoot he's about to do with teammate Fred Taylor.

"Why am I in pads and Fred's in a suit?" Jones-Drew demands. "Like I'm some little kid. I'm a grown man. What's the concept?"

The photographer mentions something about mojo being back and getting down to business. Assuaged, Jones-Drew moves on to the next slight.

"Where's Vito?" he asks Michael Wright of the Florida Times Union.

"Vito" is Vito Stellino, the quirky and respected NFL writer for the Times Union. Vito is not present.

"He wrote that I was lucky last year," accuses Jones-Drew.

"I don't remember him writing that," said Wright. "When did he write that?"

"He said that I ran against not great defenses and that this year everybody's going to be ready for me," recounts the running back.

"That's not saying you're lucky," said Wright.

A whiff of disrespect goes a long way for Jones-Drew. And even though he smiles and jokes while smoking out doubters, it's easy to see he really is concerned about it.

Which isn't a bad thing. A player who believes he has something to prove will outperform the one who believes he has it made. Every time.

And Jones-Drew makes a production of saying that he still has something to prove.

"Last year I was trying to make the team and trying to get on the field," he said. I got a chance and once I got my chance I made the best of it and just kept running with it. Now it's like I gotta make the team again. If I go out there and think I already made the team, they'll cut me. They cut Donovin (Darius, a longtime Jags safety), why wouldn't they cut me?"

So the chip remains on his shoulder?

"It's never off," he said. "When the chip is off that's when I retire. And I don't think I'll ever retire. I might play until I'm 60."

The allusion to Darius leads down another road, a chance to philosophize.

"(His release) shows you can't take anything for granted," said Jones-Drew. "He busted his butt day in and day out. I used to talk to him all the time about it. He'd say ‘It's the business. I'm starting to get towards the end of (my career) and they're going to bring someone younger in and I'll have to battle with this guy.' Any given day you can get cut. The man was here for 10 years, community guy, leader in the locker room and they got rid of him."

Those days are far in the future for Jones-Drew. At 22, he's exuberant. Irrepressible. He says things that have been said a thousand times before as if they're being said for the very first time.

"You gotta hate losing to win," he proclaims. "I hate to lose in ping pong, I hate to lose in video games, bowling. If we were spitting I'd hate to lose. I want to be the best driver, I want to be the best everything. We're trying to win the Super Bowl. That's what we want to do."

A tall order. The class of the NFL is in the AFC, the Super Bowl champion Colts are in their division

"I like the conference I'm in," Jones-Drew said. "I like the division I'm in. We get to play all the good guys. We beat the Colts, Peyton Manning. But when we beat the Colts, it wasn't, ‘the Jaguars beat the Colts', it was, ‘the Colts lost to the Jaguars', like they beat themselves. I could care less about the other conference. I could care less about other teams. I care about this team."

The photographers have packed up. The Jaguars staff is drifting off to other assignments. Jones-Drew talks on even after the interview ends. His barber shop in California. His dominance in Madden. His dog.

"I'm just the voice of the team," he pronounces. "The voicebox."

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