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Maurice Jones-Drew held out this offseason in hopes of getting a new contract, and plenty of people questioned the wisdom of the move. What was obvious from the outset was that he didn't have much leverage against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The one major thing he could do to prove his worth was to withhold his production, so that's what he did. For whatever reason, he finally came to the conclusion that it wasn't going to be enough to get the Jaguars to cave, so he ended his holdout and reported to the team.
After he came back to the team, first-year Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey decided he wouldn't start the first game. Instead, Rashad Jennings would be the Jaguars starting running back against the Minnesota Vikings.
Unfortunately, Jennings got hurt in that game, meaning Jones-Drew would have to get the lion's share of the carries for the rest of the game.
All Jones-Drew did was end that first game with 77 yards on 19 carries along with 18 yards through the air on three catches in a game the Jaguars were in position to win at the end.
In Week 2's lopsided loss to the Houston Texans, Jones-Drew added another 60 yards on the ground off only 12 carries. Those two performances to start the season were evidently just his warmup.
Against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3, with the rest of the offense sputtering, Jones-Drew exploded for 177 yards on 28 carries, helping the Jaguars stay close until the end, when an 80-yard touchdown catch by Cecil Shorts from quarterback Blaine Gabbert gave them their first win.
I don't know if the Jaguars are going anywhere this year, and the start of the season hasn't been very promising. If there has been a bright spot, however, it has been Jones-Drew's production despite missing training camp.
There is one thing I know, however: Being one of the best players in the NFL isn't just about your potential to produce; it's about being available the overwhelming majority of the time so that you can actually produce.
Despite a heavy workload since the 2009 season, Jones-Drew has never missed more than two regular-season games.
When he has a workhorse performance the way he did today, it's hard (if not impossible) to argue he isn't underpaid.