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Gabbert to start in Jaguars' preseason opener

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 | 9:55 p.m. CDT
Jacksonville Jaguar quarterbacks, from left, Blaine Gabbert, David Garrard and Luke McCown talk during drills at an unofficial football workout at Atlantic Coast High School in Jacksonville, Fla.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — David Garrard is out, Blaine Gabbert is in and Todd Bouman is once again off the tractor.

Jacksonville's quarterback situation got scrambled a bit Tuesday when coach Jack Del Rio ruled Garrard out of Thursday's preseason opener at New England.

Gabbert, the 10th overall pick in April's draft, will start against the Patriots. Gabbert, Luke McCown and Bouman are expected to share snaps. McCown took no repetitions in practice Tuesday night, but it was unclear whether he was injured.

The Jaguars signed the 39-year-old Bouman, making this his seventh stint with the franchise in the past five years. In 2010, Bouman was literally sitting on a tractor helping his father harvest corn in Minnesota when the Jaguars called.

"We actually made a call to the tractor again and Todd will be joining us this evening," Del Rio said. "Pulled him off the tractor once again. He's a great guy and we think he's a good veteran player. He'll be able to come in and pick up and help us preform throughout the preseason and we'll see from there."

Bouman had just finished raking hay when the Jaguars called Monday. He has been working out with a high school football team his brother coaches.

"For me, it hasn't changed," Bouman said. "Just come in and play, do whatever's asked and do the best job you can and whatever happens happens. I'm 39 years old, and I get to play a kid's game. What else could you want?"

Garrard tweaked his back during practice Thursday and hasn't done anything on the field since. Gabbert started the team's scrimmage Saturday and was solid despite a few dropped passes.

He expects this to be different, though.

"It's going to be fun," Gabbert said. "Those reps are going to be extremely valuable, on film after the game just to see what was going on. That will be the first live game I've been in in this league, so it will be fun. There are going to be mistakes made, but we've just got to learn from those and correct them the next week."

Garrard will make the trip to New England, but nine teammates will stay behind for treatment, rest or precautionary reasons. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew and defensive end Aaron Kampman will be among those who stay home. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and tight end Marcedes Lewis will travel, but likely won't play, Del Rio said.

Starters will work just a series or two, the coach added.

"I'm not really as interested in this first preseason game with them as much as I am getting an opportunity to evaluate the rest of the roster," Del Rio said.

All eyes will be on Gabbert, though.

The former Missouri standout had 40 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and an 18-8 record in two seasons as a starter. Jacksonville traded up six spots to draft him, believing his strong arm, decision-making skills and scrambling ability will allow him to develop into a franchise quarterback.

He's been able to work with the first-team offense the past five days, repetitions that should help him prepare for the Patriots.

"The ones speed is different," Gabbert said. "You're going against starting NFL players, so you've just got to be on top of your game, know the protections, know the concepts and know where to get the ball out if they do blitz."

Del Rio said the team is simply being cautious with Garrard and that he should be able to return Saturday. But Del Rio also expected Garrard to practice days after his back tightened up.

Signing Bouman gives the Jaguars a fill-in who is familiar with the system, someone who can play against the Patriots and still allow the offense to function and provide coaches a chance to evaluate reserves vying for roster spots.

"Can he (play right away)? Yes, I think he can," Del Rio said. "Certainly better than somebody that would come in, who wouldn't have the kind the experience he has. We're going to try not to overdo it. But he'll be available.

"It just makes sense. David is on the mend and you've got two guys there. You don't want to have to go back to a guy and play him if, God forbid, something were to occur. And we don't want to resort to lining up in the wildcat for the rest of the game, either."


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