The Jacksonville Jaguars might be without their best overall player for the remainder of the preseason.
All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew may not play until the team's season opener against Tennessee on Sept. 11, according to ESPN's Paul Kuharsky. At the very least, he won't play in Friday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Coach Jack Del Rio ruled Jones-Drew out of Friday's preseason game against Atlanta, saying he wants to control Jones-Drew's contact. Jones-Drew could get a few carries in Jacksonville's third exhibition, but Del Rio wouldn't commit to any timetables.
"We have a plan," Del Rio said Monday. "He's fully compliant and understands that we've got to have a plan. We've got to execute that plan, and part of that is getting him to the season as healthy and prepared as possible. He does need to have some contact, but we'd like that contact to be controlled as long as we can. That's why he won't be playing this week."
While Del Rio is coy about Jones-Drew's recovery time, it seems like the team would be well-advised to keep their star player out until the games matter.
Jones-Drew missed the final two games of the 2010 season with a meniscus tear that he sustained prior to the beginning of the year. He somewhat miraculously finished the year with 1,324 yards rushing, 317 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.
He had arthroscopic knee surgery to fix the tear in January and claims that he's 100 percent. But until the games matter, Jones-Drew shouldn't touch the field. And that seems to be Del Rio's strategy.
Plus the team has youngsters Rashad Jennings and Deji Karim and the Jaguars need to give them reps to see exactly what they can do carrying the load. Obviously Jones-Drew has already proven himself.
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