Scout NFL Q&A: Maurice Jones-Drew

Second-year sensation Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars talked to's Ed Thompson about gearing up for the 2007 season, how he's approaching this year's training camp, his thoughts on Byron Leftwich and more in this exclusive interview.

Ed Thompson: So are you all set to tear things up in the league this year?

Maurice Jones-Drew: Yeah, I still have a little chip on my shoulder and I'm ready to come out and prove again that the Jaguars are the real deal. So I'm going to come out and do whatever I can to help the team and get us in position to do some great things.

ET: What did you work on during the offseason to get ready for 2007?

MJD: Oh, everything from route-running to reads to getting faster. Last year I really didn't get a chance to kick it into fifth gear like I needed to, I got stuck in fourth gear. So this year we were working on getting into fifth gear, being able to break it down, make the second cut, and be explosive all over again.

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ET: How big of an advantage is it heading into your second year instead of being a rookie?

MJD: I know better what to expect and I have a better grip on things, but I still don't know everything. So I'm approaching this year like my rookie year -- and I'm going to approach it like this every year -- I've got to make the team first. You know, during minicamp it was an eye-opener when Donovin Darius got released. He played in the league for ten years, for Jacksonville for ten years and they released him. So you have to do something to let them know why you should still be there. You have to go out there and stay healthy and make plays. That's what I'm counting on this year is going out there and making plays, showing the coaches that I still have it and that I can return, catch, run, block, everything. Whatever it takes to make this team, that's what I'm going to do. And from there it's all about making plays during the game. A lot of people say that last year for me was luck, which put a little more oil on the fire, so I'm ready to get after it.

ET: Are you going to play at the same weight this year? I heard one report that you had dropped some weight.

MJD: I trimmed down a bit. Last year I played at about 212, this year I'm at 208. I'll be much faster, more efficient. And hopefully that'll show the coaches they can put me at different positions so I can get out there and try to make some plays. Last year they didn't feel comfortable enough to put me back there on punt returns. And that kind of upset me, but I didn't show them that I could do it. So this year my goal is catching every ball that comes to me.

ET: One of the big offseason question marks for the Jaguars revolved around your quarterback, Byron Leftwich. He's in the final year of his contract and people wonder if he he can make it through the season healthy. What are you seeing from Byron?  How ready is he to have a big season?

MJD: Byron cut down his weight a lot and he's been showing the team that he's a leader. He's been taking some of the young guys under his wing and helping them out, he's been getting his mind right and he's ready to go. And we're not worried about his contract, that'll take care of itself.  He said there would be a lot of hoopla over his contract, but he said he's not worried about it and he's focusing on winning. And that's what you want to hear from a great quarterback. We're going to give everybody a great show this season.

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the network and syndicated through's NFL team pages.

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