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.’’
If all goes as planned, the Jaguars’ starters will play through the first half Friday. If all goes as planned, that will include rookie first-round draft selection Justin Blackmon, too. Blackmon, who ended a 10-day holdout Monday, August 6, did not play in the team’s preseason opener Friday, but Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey said earlier this week he will play against the Saints in New Orleans on Friday. He is expected to start the game, and Mularkey hopes Blackmon can play the entire first half. "We’re going to talk tomorrow night about participation but we’re going to try a minimum of a half," Mularkey said. "Again, if I see any indications that he’s not in top shape I’m not going to put him out there. That exposes him to injury. That exposes us to failure on offense." "So as long as he’s playing at a high level then he will stay in there."
Jeremy Mincey is many things. Shy and soft-spoken are not among them. Unsure of himself is another thing Mincey isn’t, so when asked Tuesday how much he believes a defense that already was very good can improve this season, the veteran defensive end’s answer wasn’t surprising. "No. 1," Mincey said. "You shoot for No. 1 in everything you can do in life." The Jaguars ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense last season. "Six," Mincey said, "is not good enough."