Rashad Jennings will be the Jaguars starting running back barring an unforeseen change in the depth chart, coach Mike Mularkey said Monday.
All-Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout reached Day 32 on Monday and while Mularkey said the door was open for Jones-Drew to return and possibly even start, it's less likely by the passing minute.
"I expect Rashad will start," said Mularkey, "we'll just have to see."
Jones-Drew would need at least one full week to be ready for the Sept. 9 opener at Minnesota. He has no experience in Mularkey's offense and the team isn't privy to his specific physical condition during a holdout that technically covered the balance of the offseason.
Jones-Drew didn't participate in offseason workouts or minicamp, including installation of first-year coach Mularkey's new system, as he plots his course in a contract rift with management that seems to be unrelenting in its position to not budge on a deal with two years remaining.
That doesn't mean Jones-Drew couldn't play in the opener. Mularkey, in perhaps a marginal attempt to frosty icy lines of communication between the two sides, didn't rule out having the NFL's leading rusher in uniform if he opts to report.
If not, the job is Jennings' to run with, and he has only 132 career carries on his resume.
Mularkey wouldn't comment on Jones-Drew's fine level, which is likely to have reached in excess of $1 million including the forfeiture of an offseason workout bonus. It's commonplace for large fines to be waived or reduced when contract tiffs are resolved in the NFL.