Star running back Maurice Jones-Drew had surgery on his left foot Friday and will be out at least until May. The operation came 10 weeks after Jones-Drew hurt his foot at Oakland on Oct. 21 and created plenty of questions about why the team didn't opt for surgery months ago.
The Jaguars (2-13) were 1-5 after that loss, in the middle of a seven-game losing streak, and knew Jones-Drew would be out an extended period. Surgery was an option back then. Instead, the team held out hope Jones-Drew could return.
"We had hoped it would - as others have - heal without surgery, and it didn't," coach Mike Mularkey said Friday.
Mularkey said the two-month delay means little because players can't start offseason work with coaches until April 15.
"Hopefully back by May, late May, early June," Mularkey said. "If it's May, we're not going to miss a lot. I don't think it's significant that we're doing it now. We all felt like he had a chance to play all the way up until this week, and really we were hoping he could."
But it could be later. And any kind of setback could mean missing organized team activities and possibly training camp.
Sticking to his policy about not talking about injuries, Mularkey declined to offer specifics about Jones-Drew's foot injury.
"There's just some space in his foot," the coach said. "They wanted to keep it healing on its own. I don't know all the medical terms. There's a lot of things going on in the foot. Something that you hoped would naturally go back didn't, so we're going to hold it in place."
The Jaguars placed Jones-Drew on injured reserve and filled his roster spot by signing rookie defensive tackle Jerome Long off Kansas City's practice squad.
Jones-Drew, who led the league in rushing in 2011, finished with 414 yards and a touchdown this season. The Jaguars rank 30th in the league in rushing.
MJD skipped the entire offseason program, sitting out training camp and the preseason during a 38-day holdout while looking for a new contract. The Jaguars didn't budge, refusing to renegotiate since he had two years remaining on a five-year deal worth $31.5 million. He made $4.45 million this season and is due to get $4.95 million next year.
He said last week he doesn't anticipate missing anything mandatory during the offseason.
He is, though, going back to UCLA to pursue his college degree. He's scheduled to take three business classes beginning Jan. 7.
"We're going to set up a place out there for him to rehab," Mularkey said. "We have contacts out there with him. We're comfortable with that."