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Where's the love for Jags' rookie Jones-Drew?

By Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Cox News Service

Week after week, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie RB Maurice Jones-Drew has put up impressive numbers. Yet the 5-foot-7, 210-pound locomotive finds himself in the shadows of rookie counterparts New Orleans Saints RB Reggie Bush and New England Patriots RB Laurence Maroney, who appear to be fan favorites, in the race for NFL Rookie of the Year.

There are a lot of people who believe the Rookie of the Year award is nothing more than a popularity contest, and I for one tend to agree. Each week the voting for the Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week has continued to support this theory.

Take Bush for instance. Every football fan across the land knew coming into the season that Bush would be an obvious choice to win this award. However, there are those who were ready to hand over the honors to the running back before playing a down of football in the NFL.

In Week 1, Bush was nominated for Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Cleveland Browns where he ran for 61 yards on 14 carries and caught eight passes for 58 yards. He recorded 141 all-purpose yards in his NFL debut.

OK, you can't argue with that. But how is it that in Week 3 Jones-Drew goes berserk on the Indianapolis Colts, hitting them up for 244 all-purpose yards, but did not win the weekly award?

Green Bay Packers rookie WR Greg Jennings walked away with the award that week catching three passes for 101 yards and a touchdown against the woeful Detroit Lions.

Jones-Drew, on the other hand, got his swerve on, running for 103 yards on 13 carries. He caught four passes for 32 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown reception. If that wasn't enough he added 109 yards on four kickoff returns, giving him 244 all-purpose yards for the game against the Colts.

Don't get me wrong, Jennings' performance was certainly worthy of consideration for the award, but could it be that he actually won it due to the popularity of the guy throwing the ball, QB Brett Favre? I don't know, but it does leave you scratching your head after seeing the numbers Jones-Drew put up the same week. Things that make you say hmmmm...

In Week 4, Maroney carried home the honor of Rookie of the Week for his 125 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals. Maroney beat out New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston, who caught five passes for 132 yards and a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers.

Now compare the numbers of the nominees from Week 3 and Week 4.

Jones-Drew has been virtually unstoppable since his breakout game against Indianapolis and his numbers not only stack up to Bush and Maroney, but all the other rookies as well.

Jones-Drew ranks in the top 5 of these rookie statistical categories:

Rushing (No. 2)

Receiving (No. 5)

Receptions (No. 5)

TDs (No. 1)

Receiving TDs (No. 3)

Points (No. 2)

Kick Ret. Avg. (No. 1)

Rushing TDs (No. 2)

If the season ended today, you would have to give strong consideration to Jones-Drew for NFL Rookie of the Year. In fact, it would be a no-brainer.