Jones-Drew has found himself in a similar situation. During training camp, while the Vikings were trying to hold Peterson back from overdoing his rehabilitation, Jones-Drew was holding out. He reported to the Jaguars last weekend, seven days ahead of the first game. Mularkey has said Jones-Drew will play, but in a third-down role behind Rashad Jennings.
"We're preparing as if he is going to play a lot. He's a guy you definitely don't want to ignore on the football field," Frazier said, expressing the same skepticism.
Try to find two running backs in the league right now more valuable to their teams.
Over the last five seasons, Peterson and Jones-Drew rank first and second in the NFL in each of these categories: yards rushing, total touchdowns and total yards from scrimmage. During that same span, the Vikings are first (139.4) and the Jaguars (131.3) are third in the league in average yards rushing per game. The Carolina Panthers are second.
The 2011 standings, though, revealed a major flaw in the strategy. The Jaguars finished 5-11, and the Vikings matched their franchise-worst record at 3-13. No team passed for fewer yards in the NFL last year than the Jaguars. The Vikings weren't much better at fifth worst.
So are these teams stuck with their heads in the sand while the rest of the league is looking up, in the air? Or do they boast elite players at this still-important position who will continue to fuel team success provided the talent level in other places on the roster is improved?
Well, these guys have an answer, even if it's not objective analysis.
"At the end of the day being a player and understanding this league, balance is what helps win games," Jones-Drew said, pointing to the formula used down the stretch last season by the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. "As running backs we have to stick together because everybody is trying to devalue us and say we're not this or we're not that which is pretty funny."