Mularkey: MJD to be third-down back

Maurice Jones-Drew will begin the season much like he did his NFL career: as a backup and third-down running back.

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey says he expects Jones-Drew to rotate in on third downs Sunday at Minnesota. Mularkey says the NFL’s leading rusher in 2011 also will ”get a series” in place of starter Rashad Jennings.

Mularkey says Jones-Drew looks to be in playing shape. ”If you look at him physically, yes, I’d say he looks game-ready,” says Mularkey, who adds that he will have a better feel for MJD’s readiness after a fully padded practice Wednesday.

Jones-Drew ended a 38-day holdout Sunday without a new contract. He asked the team to rework the final two years of his five-year, $31 million contract, and the Jaguars declined.