New Raiders RB
Q: How does it feel to be coming back to the Bay Area?
Jones-Drew: “It feels great. It feels great. I’ve spent every offseason here, so it’s seems like everything worked out. My kids don’t have to move around anymore – they can stick in one school – I can play in front of my grandmother, who rarely got to see me in Jacksonville just because of the flying situation. It just is a blessing to be able to start my career here in Antioch and be able to finish in the Bay Area as well in Oakland. It’s going to be an exciting couple of years here.”
Q: What is your role going to be with the Raiders? Have they let you know that yet? Is it a wide-open competition?
Jones-Drew: “From what I’ve talked [about], that’s what I’ve heard is it’s going to be a competition and that’s really all I ask. There are some teams we talked to that said, ‘We want you to kind of help coach a guy,’ or ‘We want you to be a back up.’ All I really want is a chance to compete to play, and the Raiders gave me that opportunity and I am going to take it and run with it.”
Q: How much left do you have in your game do you think?
Jones-Drew: “I have a ton left in my game. I think people tend to look at running backs and say, ‘Oh, you’re 29. You don’t have anything left.’ Well, last year I was coming off a major foot surgery, which most people don’t even play the year after and I played 15 games and I didn’t get an offseason to work out. I just kind of toughed it out throughout the season and did everything I could to try to help us be as successful as possible. So, this year I get a full offseason. In 2012, I missed all of training and played five games and missed most the year with that injury. So, only being the starter for three years and a back up for three, I feel like I have a ton left in the tank. I get an opportunity to show that here in Oakland.”
Q: Were you a Raider fan or a 49er fan when you grew up here?
Jones-Drew: “I was a Raiders fan. It’s funny, the Bay Area cracks me up. There are certain people that I know – I won’t say any names – who were Raiders fans when we were growing up, but now that the 49ers are doing well, they’re 49ers fans now. Some people are just funny.”
Q: Do you think you have to be more of a hardcore fan to be a Raider fan?
Jones-Drew: “No, not really. I just think pick a team and stay with them through the good and the bad.”
Q: How motivated are you to come back after having a tough year last year with the ankle injury?
Jones-Drew: “To tell you the truth, it’s more of a personal thing for me. I am used to playing at a certain level. In 2012, I held out and I was leading the league in rushing after Game Five, and then I broke my foot, obviously, here. So, it kind of prolonged that surgery and I really didn’t get an offseason to train, so when I went into last season, it was with three weeks of training and it was kind of tough to play an NFL season with three weeks of training, but I gave it everything I had and did as much as I could and emptied my bucket every game, every week. So now I get an opportunity where I have trained, I get an opportunity to compete to play. I am definitely going to be in the best shape and get ready to come out here and help the Raiders be successful.”
Q: How important was the length of this contract and do you think that the hold out had any effect at how other teams looked at you?
Jones-Drew: “I hope it didn’t with the hold out. I hope it didn’t because it was a business decision. Obviously, sometimes there are some people in this world that take business decisions personally, but you see teams do it all the time. So, I felt that I outplayed my contract in Jacksonville at the time and I felt like being however many percentage of the offense I was and all those things I deserved to at least be able to talk to the general manager. So, some things just weren’t handled, I felt, the right way, but I hope that didn’t do any of that. I think a lot of people were more scared off with the season I had last year, not really understanding the surgery that I had and the timing of it. Oakland was willing to give me a three-year deal and an opportunity with incentives to go out and make plays. And that’s all I’ve asked, to be able to go out and show what I’m worth. That’s what I will be doing.”
Q: How difficult was it getting through some of these rough years in Jacksonville?
Jones-Drew: “For me, it taught a lot about the guys that I have around me because we never quit. We always kept fighting and playing well. Yeah, it was tough but you have to go through those tough times in order to be successful. I know coming here, playing the Raiders, seeing how talented they are and some of the moves they’ve made, you have guys on this team that have gone through some tough times and know what it feels. And we know what it takes to get to that next level. I feel like when everyone gets back and we start getting rolling and doing some great things, I think that we have a chance to compete for a division and for the playoffs and that’s what you really want to play for. And be a part of that building process, not necessarily on a team that’s already there. That’s part of the reason I went to UCLA out of high school. I could have went to USC, Oklahoma, some of the other schools that were winning, but your legacy is not as strong as if you just go to a team that’s already winning. If you help a team build from mid-level or the bottom all the way to the top, then your legacy is much stronger.”
Q: You haven’t had a whole lot of good luck coming to California as a pro. Are you looking for a little better results out here now that you’re home at here?
Jones-Drew: “We’ll see how it goes. One year, the first play of the game, I broke my foot, so that kind of … I guess you could call it bad luck. I don’t know, it just was a routine tackle. Last year, I was doing pretty well, I was starting to run the ball and I just kind of hurt my ankle with that great tackle from [Charles] Woodson. It was just two plays where the guys made some good plays. Coming out here, I just kind of get a chance to, not necessarily worry about that but just go out and compete and play in front of the people that I’ve loved since I’ve been a child and in front of the people that raised me and taught me how to play this game. That’s exciting and that’s what I’m playing this for.”
Q: What is your impression of what the Raiders have done in free agency and what kind of team can they be?
Jones-Drew: “I really haven’t met everyone but just playing against the Raiders, there is a ton of talent here. I think Reggie McKenzie and his staff have done a great job of piling on guys like
Q: What is your schedule? Are you home now?
Jones-Drew: “I live out here every offseason. I live next to guys and I am here. I’ll be here. I train here. It was a perfect situation where I don’t have pick my family up and move anywhere. I can take our kids out of school. Once they get done in Jacksonville with school, everyone will come out here and they’ll be in schools here and we won’t have to go anywhere else.”
Q: Have you had a conversation with
Jones-Drew: “First of all, Darren is a tremendous talent. He is a better person. I’ve met him a couple of times. We’ve run into each other in L.A. in the offseason a little bit. He is a great guy. Like you said, he is a tremendous talent on the field. Like you said, he is a guy that can break a run from anywhere on the field. He is a shifty guy. I think we have different running abilities, but the competition is what is going to make us better. I know going in that he kind of has a leg up on me because he has been in this offense before, but my job is to come in and compete to play. I know that’s what he is going to do and, like you said, we both have something to prove and I think that will help us out in the long run, competing and being able to push each other.”
Q: Do you know Matt Schaub very well?
Jones-Drew: “It’s funny how a lot of these guys want to prove stuff. That’s exciting. Matt Schaub, playing him twice a year, I’ve seen him torch us. I know what kind of player he is. Sometimes guys have a bad year. Just like me, I had a down year, he had a down year. I know he has a lot to prove and I really admired him from afar about how he handled that offense and a lot of scrutiny he got in Houston and I just can’t wait to play with him. I’ve heard a lot about him from Arian [Foster], Justin Forsett, Andre Johnson. It’s going to be exciting to be around him all the time and see how he thinks and just get out there and hopefully, with everyone we can change this deal around and get it going.”
Q: Is there any particular goal that you have for the next season or two?
Jones-Drew: “No, never. The only goal I have is to win and that’s it. All the other individual accomplishments and accolades will come with that. I just think when you get into an organization like this that is so storied and has a great tradition, they know how to win. They beat Jacksonville when I was with them. They know what it takes. Obviously, we are in a tough division, but that’s OK. That’s exciting to be able to compete against the best – Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, these defenses, these other runners – Jamaal Charles. It’s going to be exciting to go out there and compete against these guys. That was one of the things, some people ask why I would want to go there. They have a tough schedule. It’s not about that. First of all, it was a great situation for me and my family. And I get to compete against some of the best, Darren McFadden,
Q: Have you talked to Charles Woodson?
Jones-Drew: “I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to him. This is my first time in the building today, so when we get a chance to start OTAs and the offseason program and all those things, if he’s here, I’ll be in his ear and trying to pick his brain and what he learned about me and how he studied me and those things and how I can better my game. It was a hell of a tackle. There is nothing I can say. He dove over a guy and did a great job pulling me down. No harm, no foul.”