NAPA -- Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson first coached Maurice Jones-Drew two years ago in Jacksonville, but didn’t meet him until right before the regular season.
The running back held out for a new contract during the 2012 offseason program and training camp. When Jones-Drews showed up, Olson wasn’t impressed with his form.
“When I was with the kid two years ago, and I’m not saying anything Maurice doesn’t already know or that I wouldn’t say to him, … his body was completely different then than it is now.
“He ran the ball okay that year and he got hurt early in the season, but he was heavy and looked a little lethargic. He doesn’t look anything like that now.”
The 29-year old dropped some weight in preparation for his ninth season and first with his hometown Raiders, poised to break the link between old age and ineffectiveness.
He reported to camp looking lean, but promises to be just as powerful and mean.
"Maurice Jones-Drew plays like a big back," Olson said. "You can’t arm tackle the guy. He has such a low center of gravity that he’s extremely difficult to tackle because of his height and his power. He has ridiculous power in those legs."
Olson believes Jones-Drew’s frame can help him in more ways than one.
Jones-Drew is tough to find running behind a monstrous offensive line that, as it stands now, averages 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds.
“He can get lost at the line of scrimmage, and when they do see him and if they try and stick an arm out, he’ll rip it off,” Olson said. “He’s got that kind of power.”
The key, as it is with most aging backs with recent injury history, is to keep him going strong. If that’s possible, the Raiders believe he can find to old form.
“He’s a great pass protector, he’s smart and he’s powerful,” Olson said. “We just have to find a way to keep him healthy.”