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Mike Mularkey implies Maurice Jones-Drew still could be opening day starter

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer
MJD apparently still could start on opening day. Possibly. (Getty Images)

Despite all the table-banging and the holdouts and the reports of trades and the runaway train references from the team owner, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew still could be Jacksonville's opening day starter. He'll have to act quick, though.

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For now, Rashad Jennings is the No. 1 running back, as Jones-Drew's holdout has reached about a month. But if Jones-Drew were to return soon, those plans could change.

“It depends on him,” Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey said, via the Florida Times Union. “What kind of shape he's in. How fast he picks up the system. I'm not going to put him in a position where he has any chance to fail because in the long run, we all fail. I'm not going to expose him to failure. It's not going to happen. If he's ready and all those conditioning wise [things], and he picks it up immediately, the faster he can progress, yes. I don't know where we're at right now. I have no idea.”

Mularkey apparently still hasn't actually met Jones-Drew, and he said his running back doesn't have a playbook (it's hard to imagine, though, that Jones-Drew hasn't figured out a way to get his hands on one. And if not, there's no way he'll be the starter in Week 1, no matter when he ends his holdout). Plus, based on the new CBA, Jones-Drew would have to wait four days after reporting before he actually could put on pads.

But who knows: maybe Jones-Drew will report this week.

After all, Jones-Drew, with very little leverage, seems to be warming to the idea of returning to the Jaguars, saying, “I'd rather stay here with my team, my family. I talk to my teammates every day, my kids go to school here, I'm rooted here in Jacksonville with the NFL. I'd love to end my career here in Jacksonville, but part of the business is sometimes you can't do things you want.”

He also told CBSSports.com fantasy guru Dave Richard that “things are going to work out.”

And now if Mularkey's comments could be conceived as a peace offering back to Jones-Drew, maybe he'll figure out soon that it's time for him to report to his team and get a chance to win back his old job.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.

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