Maurice Jones-Drew: Since we're more of a defense-oriented team with Coach Del Rio, he always wants to practice pad level cause we run the ball. Running the ball is kind of physical and it's hard to get the real feel for the game in shorts. We're probably one of the most physical teams out there - us and the Ravens - we run the ball and the defenses for both of those teams are some of the top defenses in the game. For us to get ready to play the physical type of game we like, we have to warm our bodies up to let them know that we'll be playing a game soon; we can't just stay in shorts.
Ed Thompson: Have you felt the impact of the rookie wall at all?
MD: There's really no such thing, it's all in your mind. The only thing I can think of as a "rookie wall" is that you're sore for longer. Usually in college you'd basically be done now at least for a little bit, but in the NFL you've got another four or five games left plus the playoffs if you make it there.
ET: Back in September you rushed for 103 yards, caught 4 passes for 32 yards and scored a touchdown against Indianapolis. Is it safe to say that the game against the Colts was the one that really put the national spotlight on you this season and got your head coach's attention?
MD: I guess you could say that. I think the coaches wanted to ease me into the season and not just throw me into the fire. You come out of college where you were one of the best players on the team and then you get to the NFL and you play with the backups. It was kind of tough for me to adjust. I knew my role, but as a competitor you always want to be the best and help the team; not bite your tongue. Before the game in Indianapolis, I asked the coach "when am I going to get a chance?" And he said "maybe this game, it just depends on how things are going." And they gave me a chance and I just tried to make the best of my opportunity..
|Photo: Doug Benc/Getty Images|
MD: Fred (Taylor)'s there and you have to respect that. That's something you have to deal with when playing behind a future Hall-of-Famer, you have to wait your turn. I'm learning a lot from him which helps me out. He's telling me "I don't know how long I'm going to be here, but as long as I'm here I'm goning to make sure you're alright, and I'm going to teach you everything I know." I've been learning more and more from him each week."
Q: Between the two of you, you have a rushing tandem that's ranked third in the NFL. Why do you think that works so well for your team?
MD: Well first of all, the offensive line does a great job blocking for us.
Then there's the coaching scheme. And with David (Garrard) back there (at
quarterback), it's another weapon for us because they can't chase us down from
the backside anymore. They have to respect David's rollout, and the
receivers are making plays downfield so it's kind of hard for teams to stop us
as an offense. They wanted to stop the run and make the young receivers make
plays and that's what they're doing now, so I'm trying to figure out what
they're going to do next because they're not going to be able to stop
Q: You're in the top five in seven very diverse categories amongst rookies including rushing, receiving, scoring, and kick-off return average. You lead all NFL rookies in total touchdowns with nine, you're tied for first in rushing TDs (7), you're second to New England's placekicker in scoring, and second in kickoff returns average (25.2). Those look like pretty good credentials for Rookie of the Year consideration. But recently against the Bills you had over 220 all-purpose yards and New England's Laurence Maroney had about 50 yards less, and he got consideration for Rookie of the Week while you didn't. Do you know why it seems like your being overlooked so far?
MD: I don't think too much about that stuff. I mean obviously I want to get Rookie of the Year, everybody should, that'd be a great goal to achieve. But so far at times it seems like some people already have their minds set that certain people have a chance to get it. The week I had the 220 all-purpose yards, I was the first rookie to go over the 200-yard mark in that category this year, and there wasn't even anything about that in the newspapers. I remember when Reggie Bush scored his first rushing touchdown, it was all over the place and at that time I'm like, "wow, I've scored four of those already." (laughs) As far as Laurence Maroney, my agent heard I didn't get nominated because our team lost that week and his team won, which was hard to understand because it's supposed to be based on individual performance. And it's nothing against those guys because they're great players, but the media just makes it tough to get recognized at times when you should. I still don't feel respected in this league yet and I've done so much. I think I was the first rookie to 1,000 yards and nobody's said anything about that, but they blew up four touchdowns in one game (by the Colts Joseph Addai). I have nine on the season and I've only played in ten games. Again, it's nothing against those guys, Joseph Addai has 800 yards rushing, Laurence Maroney is doing a great job in New England, but I don't know what else they want from me. But motivation is the key and I just try to get ready. I really don't even look at this stuff, but I've got my friends calling me, my agent, the PR guys at the Jaguars are telling me all that stuff. But it's out of my control - all I can do is go out there and help the Jaguars win.