Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ready to Receive Carries, Money; Jones-Drew Is Now the Jags' Starter and Might Be Paid like One, Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ready to Receive Carries, Money; Jones-Drew Is Now the Jags' Starter and Might Be Paid like One, Too

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

The Jaguars handed Maurice Jones-Drew the keys to their running game Monday when they released veteran Fred Taylor.

Jones-Drew now becomes the starting running back after alternating with Taylor for the past three seasons.

And while coach Jack Del Rio said that Greg Jones will likely get five to 10 carries a game, and the Jaguars also have Montell Owens and Chauncey Washington on the roster, Jones-Drew will carry the load as both a runner and a receiver.

Jones-Drew, who turns 24 next month, has already proved that he can put up starter-type numbers while being a backup, and he figures to surpass them as a starter.

There were a lot of doubters when he came into the league because he's only 5-feet-7, but Jones-Drew proved all the doubters wrong.

His 6,143 total yards in the past three years, including return yards, is the best total in the league in that span. Brian Westbrook of Philadelphia is second at 5,751.

Jones-Drew is sixth in yards from scrimmage at 4,081 and third in receiving yards at 1,500 in the past three years. He is third in touchdowns with 40, one behind Westbrook and 14 behind LaDainian Tomlinson.

Now, the problem for the Jaguars is locking Jones-Drew up in a long-term deal.

The Jaguars and Jones-Drew agree on one thing. They want him in Jacksonville, and he wants to stay in Jacksonville.

"He's certainly a player we want here in the future," general manager Gene Smith said. "He's obviously a younger Fred Taylor."

Jones-Drew's agent, Adisa Bakari, said, "To my way of thinking, he wants to be in Jacksonville for the better part of his career."

Jones-Drew is in the final year of his rookie contract and is due to make the league minimum for four-year players, $535,000.

Under normal circumstances, Jones-Drew would become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but these are not normal times in the NFL. …

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