JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In about a week, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has gone from holdout to backup to starter.
He's more concerned with adding another adjective: winner.
Jones-Drew will return to his starting role when the Jaguars (0-1) try to bounce back from a gut-wrenching loss in the opener Sunday against AFC South rival Houston (1-0). Despite missing all of training camp and the preseason, the NFL's leading rusher in 2011 believes he's ready for a bigger workload.
"I was ready for 80 carries last week," Jones-Drew said Wednesday. "We'll see. We'll see how increased it is. I definitely didn't think it was going to be what it was last week, but that's how it happened and we just got to adjust so we'll see how it goes this week."
Rashad Jennings started at Minnesota and carried eight times for 31 yards before injuring his right knee. Coach Mike Mularkey said Jenning's injury is "not something long term," but added that it's the same knee that caused Jennings to miss all of last season.
Jennings sat out practice Wednesday, but has not been ruled out for the home opener.
Nonetheless, the Jaguars are trying get Jones-Drew up to speed on the playbook and on the practice field.
"He'll see extensive play compared to what we had planned for last week's game," Mularkey said.
Jones-Drew ran 19 times for 77 yards in the 26-23 overtime loss to the Vikings, a game in which Jacksonville led by a field goal before collapsing in the closing seconds of regulation. Jones-Drew's longest run gained 11 yards, but he showed glimpses of his younger days by nearly breaking a few.
"Pretty good is a good description for the first game," Mularkey said. "I think he was sore after the game, which he was probably sorer than he would have been if he would have gone through the camp, some of the hits. I think it's a gradual thing. I don't know if one week's going to get him into the top where he was last year at his highest level of fitness.
"I think some of those runs may have broken free maybe if he had been here earlier. I was very pleased with the production that he did, and as hard as he ran was unbelievable. I think it's going to get better and better."
Jones-Drew, though, could be running behind a shuffled line.
Left guard Eben Britton and right tackle Cam Bradfield sat out practice Wednesday, both still dealing with ankle injuries sustained in the opener. If they can't play, undrafted rookie Mike Brewster and veteran Guy Whimper would fill in against the Texans.
"Injuries can be a tough situation ... but whoever has come in there has done a great job and we've been able to keep going like nothing's happened," centre Brad Meester said. "That's definitely important."
Jones-Drew ran for 1,606 yards last season despite playing at what he calls "80 per cent" because he was coming off knee surgery.
He skipped the team's off-season program in hopes of getting a new contract. The Jaguars refused, not wanting to renegotiate with a player who has two years remaining on a $31 million deal.
Jones-Drew eventually gave up and arrived in time for the opener. He denied an NFL.com report that he was fined $800,000 for his 38-day holdout.
"I don't know where that came from," he said. "That's false."
Regardless, Jones-Drew was expected to serve as the third-down back and maybe get a series here or there against Minnesota. But once Jennings left the game, MJD pretty much played the rest of the way.
"I'm not happy, not satisfied," he said. "We didn't win. At the end of the day, that's all you want. That's the thing we want to work on. We want that before us. We want people to say 'winners.' That's what we want to work on, and we're going to continue to do that."