With the preseason winding down, Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew has lost his opportunity to start the season opener at Minnesota on Sept. 9. There's still no update on when -- or if -- Jones-Drew will report, but regardless, the Jaguars will go with Rashad Jennings in the opener.
"Again, Rashad Jennings is going in as the starter," coach Mike Mularkey told the Florida Times-Union, clarifying a recent comment he made that Jennings was the starter "right now." "I think what I said was I've never been in this situation before with any player, let alone a running back, when he has held out through training camp. I don't know how it will all unfold. The conditioning, the mental part, I have no idea.”
Jennings has earned the opportunity to start. After missing the 2011 season with a knee injury, he has carried 36 times for 176 yards in the preseason.
Jones-Drew will forego a paycheck of over $250,000 for every game he sits out. The Jaguars all-time leading rusher is holding out because he wants a new contract, while the organization wants him to finish out the two years left on his deal.
Mathis to play nickelback: Veteran CB Rashean Mathis will be the team's nickelback. Aaron Ross and Derek Cox will be the two starters at CB. Cox's role is contingent on him returning from a hamstring injury that has kept him out for a chunk of the preseason.
Mathis is still recovering from a torn ACL that cut his 2011 season short. It's been a long rehab for Mathis, but he's confident he'll still have a chance to be a major contributor in 2012.
“I feel it getting stronger,” Mathis told the team's website. “Where I'm at now and where I was two weeks ago, there's a big difference. It's just the strength. Muscle endurance is the main thing. You might be good 10 plays, but can you play 30, 40 or 50 plays? Endurance is the concern and that's what the process is now."
Injury update: T Eugene Monroe (concussion) and LB Daryl Smith (groin) have both returned to practice and are expected to play against the Falcons on Thursday. G Will Rackley (ankle) is questionable for Thursday, but still on track to play in the season opener. TE Zach Miller (calf) and CB Derek Cox (hamstring) are still beinng held out of practice.
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