Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew will end his 38-day holdout on September 2, 2012. Rashad Jennings confirmed this news with the following tweet:
“Just shared some love with @Jones_Drew32 in the locker room. Glad to see you back – Let’s work brah!”
At 27 years old, Jones-Drew is one of the NFL’s top running backs. Since 2009, Jones-Drew has averaged 1,440 rushing yards with nine rushing touchdowns and two touchdown receptions per season. In 2011, Jones-Drew had 1,606 rushing yards with eight rushing touchdowns and three touchdown receptions.
How will the lack of training camp affect Jones-Drew’s performance in 2012? Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is another example of an AFC South running back who missed all of training camp. In 2011, Johnson held out for a contract extension. Through his first three seasons, Johnson had averaged 1,533 rushing yards with 11 rushing touchdowns per season. Toward the end of training camp, Johnson agreed to an extension.
Johnson’s production plummeted in 2011. He had 1,047 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. At one point, Johnson was so bad that reports had surfaced about the Titans possibly releasing him before the fifth day of the 2012 offseason.
Why did Johnson struggle? There were many reasons. Some of those reasons were the offensive line and play-calling. However, Johnson blamed much of his struggles on missing training camp. Johnson told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
“I was in shape, but I wasn’t in football shape. Like, as much as I worked out in this offseason, I came in, I started in camp, and I’m still not used to it today. I’m still not in football shape. We just started. It takes toward the end of football camp to get in football shape. The thing about it, it wasn’t nothing I can do during football practice during the season get me in football shape. I can go through the games and play in the games, but the games still… the games aren’t as hard as training camp. That’s not going to get you in football shape. Training camp is brutal. “
Maurice Jones-Drew faces an uphill battle. Throughout the preseason, Jennings has looked capable of being a No. 1 running back. It’ll be interesting to see if Jones-Drew shows any signs of “Not being in football shape.” If Jennings has a strong showing in Week 1, then Jones-Drew could lose carries.
“You’re always replaceable.”