As we count down the days to training camp, Around the League will examine one player from every team set for a breakout campaign in 2012. Next up, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Rashad Jennings could take advantage of Maurice Jones-Drew's contract squabble.
The Jacksonville Jaguars do not know if three-time Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew will show in time for training camp. The NFL's leader in rushing attempts (343) and rushing yards (1,606) is not happy with the two years and $9.5 million that remains on his $31.35 million extension from 2009 and skipped the team's offseason program, including a mandatory minicamp.
Between $60,000 in potential fines for the minicamp absence, and forfeiting a $50,000 workout bonus in his contract, Jones-Drew might have spent $110,000 to show his dissatisfaction.
Part of Jones-Drew's willingness to play hardball with the Jaguars might be due to a lack of organizational depth at the running back position. Jones-Drew accounted for 70.1 percent of the team's carries and 81.5 percent of the Jaguars' rushing yards last season.
A potential ace up Jaguars general manager Gene Smith's sleeve is Rashad Jennings, a 2009 seventh-round pick out of Liberty who spent last season on injured reserve with a sprained medial collateral ligament.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Jennings has 123 carries for 661 yards (a 5.4 yards per carry average) with five touchdowns, a pair of 100-yard performances and 42 receptions for 324 yards out of the backfield.
What's impressive about Jennings' production is that he played in less than 25 percent of the Jaguars' offensive snaps over the 2009 and 2010 seasons (492 of 2,106, according to a source with access to official playing-time documents).
Even if Jones-Drew reports in time for the regular season, the Jaguars would be wise to lessen his workload by putting more on Jennings' plate. With Jennings entering the final year of his contract, and getting the reps with the first-team offense as Mike Mularkey installs his system, the 27-year-old could be poised for a breakout season.