After eight seasons with Jacksonville, MJD joined Oakland this past offseason to the detest of many owners since his numbers would presumably take a massive nosedive in a backfield that also includes Darren McFadden—hence his average draft position of 7.04, outside of the top 30 at his position.
MJD flipped that thought process on its head in Oakland's preseason Week 3 contest against Green Bay.
Taking the snaps with the first-team offense in the first quarter, MJD gained 45 yards and a touchdown on just three carries, capped off by a 40-yard touchdown scamper. Bleacher Report's Ian Kenyon put it best:
Wow. Maurice Jones-Drew. Looking like old MJD there.— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) August 23, 2014
Remember, that occurred against a first-team defense in the most important preseason week of all and comes just weeks after MJD had worked as the clear-cut starter over McFadden in practice.
It is a testament to the approach of offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who told Jerry McDonald of ibabuzz.com recently what he expects from his star back:
He’s got such a low center of gravity. He’s extremely difficult to tackle because of his height and his power. He’s got ridiculous power in those legs. And he’s hard to see with a big line. He’s hard to see coming out of the line of scrimmage, and when he does come out, they get a glimpse of him and try and stick an arm out, he’ll rip it off. He’s got that kind of power.
Nobody would suggest that MJD is going to return to 2011 form, which saw him win the rushing title. He is 29 years old and missed 10 games in 2012 before playing in 15 last year and averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.
But MJD has obvious value and usage in Oakland as the staff looks to employ a committee approach to keep the pressure off quarterback Matt Schaub. Given his current ADP, MJD is arguably the biggest steal at the position right now.