Taking a step back Maurice Jones-Drew will begin the season much like he did his NFL career: a backup and third-down running back.
Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said that Jones-Drew will rotate in on third-down plays Sunday at Minnesota. The NFL’s leading rusher in 2011 also will ‘‘get a series’’ in place of starter Rashad Jennings.
‘‘I don’t know the number of reps that he will play, but I would imagine that he will play, yes,’’ Mularkey said.
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, but the Jaguars declined.
Jones-Drew practiced with the team Monday for the first time since before last year’s finale. He said he carried about 10 or 15 times.
Tebow getting wildAfter months of intrigue surrounding what exactly Tim Tebow’s role will be in the Jets’ offense, the backup quarterback will see some action in the wildcat formation against the Bills on Sunday, coach Rex Ryan said. The Jets did not use the wildcat at all in the preseason, when New York failed to score a touchdown in the first three games with starter Mark Sanchez and Tebow . . . Receiver Mike Wallace said there’s no need for Pittsburgh to hold him back Sunday in Denver despite a lengthy holdout that didn’t end until last week . . . Buffalo quarterback Tyler Thigpen accepted a $1 million pay cut to improve his chances of staying . . . Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks vowed to play Wednesday against the Cowboys despite missing his second straight practice. Nicks recently returned to the active roster after breaking his foot in May. Also, three-time Pro Bowl center Shaun O’Hara officially retired as a Giant . . . The Lions signed nine-year veteran cornerback Drayton Florence and released safety Ricardo Silva.
Will Urlacher play?Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher returned to practice for the first time since July 31, hoping to play Sunday against Indianapolis. Coach Lovie Smith said the eight-time Pro Bowler looked good considering he had arthroscopic surgery to his left knee Aug. 14. Urlacher talked to Fox TV and said, ‘‘I’m playing Sunday. That’s a done deal.’’ However, Urlacher also said the knee will not be 100 percent. Chicago also signed defensive tackle and former first-round pick Amobi Okoye . . . San Francisco placed linebacker Parys Haralson on injured reserve and signed linebacker Clark Haggans to a one-year deal to help fill the void. It is believed Haralson hurt his left arm in a preseason win at Denver . . . Colts receiver Austin Collie was cleared to practice and is expected to play in Sunday’s season opener at Chicago. The announcement came a little more than two weeks after Collie was diagnosed with his third full-blown concussion in less than 22 months . . . San Diego’s Pro Bowl running back Ryan Mathews hopes he can play next Monday against Oakland after going through individual drills for the first time since breaking his collarbone Aug. 9 . . . Quarterback David Garrard returned to Dolphins practice, three weeks after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that forced him to miss the entire exhibition season . . . Trent Richardson returned to practice with the Browns. The rookie running back had knee surgery Aug. 9, but his participation is a strong sign he will play Sunday against Philadelphia.First day on the job Aaron Kromer began his first day in charge of the Saints’ coaching staff by providing his players with a dose of perspective. The images of destruction in the south Louisiana communities hit hardest by Hurricane Isaac last week provided all the material he needed. ‘‘I talked to the team this morning about adversity, and that [our situation] isn’t adversity.” Monday also marked the beginning of suspensions for interim coach Joe Vitt (six games), general manager Mickey Loomis (eight games), and defensive end Will Smith (four games) in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation.