VIKINGS VS. JACKSONVILLE
Mall of America Field
TV: Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)
Line: Vikings by 4
ABOUT JACKSONVILLE LAST SEASON: 5-11
• Mike Mularkey is the new head coach. The former Vikings tight end was an assistant with five NFL teams and was head coach of the Bills in 2004 and 2005.
• The Jaguars took WR Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State fifth overall in the NFL draft, one pick behind Vikings OT Matt Kalil. Their second-round choice, DE Andre Branch of Clemson, also is expected to be a key addition.
• Blaine Gabbert is a second-year QB who will be backed up by former Dolphins starter Chad Henne.
• Key free agent signing was WR Laurent Robinson from Dallas.
• New CB Aaron Ross, who won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants, is the husband of Olympic 400-meter gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross.
PLAYER TALK RB MAURICE JONES-DREW
The NFL's leading rusher (1,606 yards) last season held out until last weekend. He has two years remaining on a five-year, $31 million deal. The 27-year-old will back up Rashad Jennings on Sunday.
"I would like to take every carry Sunday, but it's not up to me. I'm learning the offense ... I'm going to prepare as if I'm the starter, that's what my mindset is."
"I don't want to get into the contract. There's good things and bad things that happen with holdouts ... people talk about the negatives and they never talk about the positives, I guess controversy sells. I'm just trying to be the best that I can be."
"The difference [with a new offense] is that they are tweaking the running plays a little bit and you have to get used to it. "
COACH SPEAK MIKE MULARKEY
Jacksonville's coach on some key players ...
... On Jones-Drew: "He thinks he can start and play the whole game; I'm not sure he can do that. He hasn't taken a hit since last season. You have to get your body used to that as well."
... On Branch: "He's actually been better in the run game than I thought. A lot of these guys who have edge rush struggle against bigger linemen. As I said last weekend, he's not a very nice guy. He is relentless. The thing I like about the guy, he takes coaching, he's never good enough, he wants to be great."
... On Gabbert: "He was a 21-year-old quarterback [last season] who started 14 games. That will always be in his favor."