Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Plan for No MJD; Jennings, Owens Are Team's Top Running Back Options

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Plan for No MJD; Jennings, Owens Are Team's Top Running Back Options

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

As Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout reached its 20th day, the Jaguars continued to make plans without him.

Coach Mike Mularkey said Tuesday that Montell Owens has won the backup running back job even though he has carried the ball just 14 times in his six-year career, including 10 last season.

Rashad Jennings, who was slated to be the backup running back, became the starter in Jones-Drew's absence.

"I'd say Montell is the backup right now,'' Mularkey said. "He's done a lot of good things. Third down, he's been very good. Every opportunity he's had to carry the ball, he's shown some good running skills.''

Owens ran five times for 20 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown run, against the New York Giants Friday night.

With Jones-Drew on the verge of missing all of training camp, which closes Sunday, it's a possibility the Jaguars will open the season at Minnesota with Jennings and Owens as their first two running backs.

It'll be a surprise if Jones-Drew hasn't returned by the opener because he will miss regular season paychecks if he takes his holdout into the regular season.

But Mularkey indicated that Jones-Drew won't be automatically put right back into the lineup, assuming he decides to return.

"We have to obviously spend extra time with him in the classroom and see where he is with his conditioning,'' he said.

"Even if he is in good condition, he won't be in football condition. As guys have found out, it's hard to practice their condition 2 1/2 hours like we do out here.

"There's no exercises and nothing you can do to simulate an NFL practice and an NFL game. We'll just see where he is when he's back both mentally and physically."

Mularkey added, "I think it would be a disservice to put him in if he was not fully prepared. It would be a health risk to do that. If he's not prepared, it is not going to help us offensively and it's not going to help our team if he's not ready to go at full strength. I would never put our team in jeopardy of being in that position.''

Although general manager Gene Smith has said he's been in touch with Jones-Drew, Mularkey said he's had no contact in the last month with the NFL's 2011 leading rusher. …

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