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Montell Owens: "Just getting more reps"

Posted Dec 6, 2012

Jacksonville Jaguars special teams ace Montell Owens could get first career start at running back against New York Jets Sunday

Now is not a time to change approach.

That’s how Montell Owens sees his week, even considering the opportunity at hand. He has played seven NFL seasons, and throughout that time, he has prepared, worked, done what was asked. Doing so got him into the NFL, kept him with the Jaguars, and put him in two Pro Bowls.

So, now he should change?

Because his role is different?

No, Owens said, just because this week might be an opportunity for which he has waited his whole career doesn’t mean he can act any differently.

“It doesn’t change,” Owens said as the Jaguars (2-10) prepared to play the New York Jets (5-7) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

“You lean on what’s worked for you. Once you start clicking off your fourth year, fifth year, sixth year, you learn how to prepare. That’s something I’m leaning on at this point. I’m leaning on what I’ve learned all these years – how to prepare the right way to give myself and this team the best chance to win on Sunday.”

Owens, a two-time Pro Bowl selection as a special teams player, is working with the first-team offense at running back this week. He has a very real chance to make his first NFL start at running back Sunday, and if Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey this past spring didn’t envision that happening, know this:

Now, it’s not a scenario Mularkey minds much.

“I trust Montell Owens,” Mularkey said. “I think he’s done well for the number of times he’s had a chance to run the ball.”

Mularkey said though at first he knew of Owens only as one of the NFL’s best special teams players, that changed quickly.

“He is everything I heard and maybe more,’’’ Mularkey said of Owens, who originally made the Jaguars as an undrafted rookie from the University of Maine. “When he had chances to carry the ball, I thought, ‘Wow, this guy – I knew he was a good football player but this guy is a decent back. He can actually produce like I wasn’t sure of. I think we’ve got to test the waters.’’’

The water-testing was spurred by a slew of injuries at running back.

Maurice Jones-Drew, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has missed the last six games with a foot sprain and Mularkey said this week he remains “very questionable” for Sunday. Jalen Parmele, who started in a victory over Tennessee two weeks ago, is on injured reserve, and Rashad Jennings – who started six games this season – sustained a concussion Sunday against Buffalo and has yet to be cleared to practice.

Owens last week replaced Jennings, rushing a career-high seven times for 29 yards. While the statistics weren’t eye-catching, he ran hard, and when given the opportunity, created positive down-and-distance scenarios.

“He’s going to get what’s there, and he is a powerful runner,” Jaguars offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said. “He has the ability to run over people, which he has done. He has shown the ability to make somebody miss as well.

“To be a great special teams player, you have to have that quickness, that change of direction. That’s the stuff that will bode well for him.”

On Monday, in the wake of Jennings’ injury, Mularkey said Owens would be the starter against the Jets if nothing changed. So far, nothing has, so after nearly seven years waiting – and with just 21 regular-season carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns during that time – his opportunity could at last arrive.

Just don’t expect Owens to see anything all that differently.

“It’s all the same,” Owens said. “Now, I’m doing it series after series whereas before I’d do it for a series here, a series there, splitting time with Maurice or splitting time with Rashad. Now, it’s more of a full-time role, but we’re playing a football game.

“Obviously, in this instance, my role has changed, but it really hasn’t. I’m going from a part-time role to a full-time role, but it’s not like I’ve never done this before. I’ve been a running back and a utility guy since I’ve been here. I’m just getting more reps.”

Also Thursday:

* Wide receiver Cecil Shorts missed practice for a second consecutive day after sustaining a concussion Sunday. The Jaguars’ leading receiver this season, Shorts passed his baseline concussion test on Tuesday, but as of Wednesday, Mularkey said Shorts was still experiencing symptoms.

* Cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring) worked full Thursday after missing Sunday’s game and working limited Wednesday, while defensive end Austen Lane (foot) worked limited for a second consecutive day.

* Jennings (concussion) and defensive end George Selvie (concussion) also missed practice a second consecutive day. Neither had passed their concussion tests as of Wednesday.

* Center/guard Mike Brewster (hand) and cornerback Aaron Ross (calf) missed practice a second consecutive day, while fullback Greg Jones (thigh) worked limited after missing Wednesday. Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (calf) and cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) worked full for a second consecutive day, and center Brad Meester (foot) worked full after missing Wednesday.

* Jones-Drew missed practice for a second consecutive day and is considered very questionable to play Sunday.

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