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Inside the Jaguars: Brief tuneup for Henne, starters

Posted Aug 27, 2013

Chad Henne, Cecil Shorts III happy for chance to start, play against Atlanta Thursday in preseason finale.

JACKSONVILLE – Chad Henne will get one more tuneup, brief though it will be.

Henne, who on Thursday will start at quarterback in the Jaguars’ 2013 preseason finale in Atlanta, said there is plenty to be gained from even a short preseason stint.

And that’s just what the stint will be:

Short.

Henne, starting in place of injured Blaine Gabbert (sprained right thumb), is expected to play about 10-to-15 plays against Atlanta, with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley saying Tuesday that’s about how long many of the team’s starters will play Thursday.

“Whatever (Head Coach) Gus (Bradley) wants, we’re going to go out and try to execute the best we can,” Henne said Tuesday following a two-hour practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.

“Anytime you get an opportunity to compete – myself included – with this team, we’re going to go out and try to win our situations and put some points on the board.”

Bradley said while players such as running back Maurice Jones-Drew and linebacker Paul Posluszny will be game-time decisions, players who haven’t played extensively in the preseason such as wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien and rookie offensive tackle Luke Joeckel could play more. He also said rookie Dwayne Gratz could get extended playing time.

Cyprien missed the preseason opener with a hamstring injury, with Joeckel missing the second preseason game with a hip flexor injury. Shorts missed the first two preseason games with a calf injury.

“It’s a tuneup,” Shorts said. “If I had played the first two games, it wouldn’t matter. I’d be ready. I want a little more, just to be sure. These last two weeks, I’ve been feeling almost back to where I was, but I want that little tuneup – just to make sure.

“The coaches, I trust what they want, but I am going to go them and say, ‘Hey, a little bit more – if possible.’”

Bradley said the team hasn’t yet decided who will replace Henne at quarterback Thursday, with Matt Scott and Mike Kafka both expected to play extensively.

“They’re going to get a great opportunity,” Bradley said. “It was a tough situation for them (the first three preseason games), because they might not have gotten many practice reps against the service team getting prepared. This week they’ve gotten a lot more so it will be a great evaluation for them to see how they handle it and handle the team.”

PHOTO GALLERY OF AUG. 27 PRACTICE

Scott, a rookie free agent from the University of Arizona, was the first quarterback in after Henne against Philadelphia last Saturday. He completed 6 of 11 passes for 52 yards and rushed once for three yards. He has completed 12 of 28 passes for 103 yards in the preseason.

“You can’t go out there and try to do anything special,” Scott said. “You just have to go out there and execute and show the coaches you can lead this team up and down the field and put points on the board. If you start worrying about (reps and who’s making the team), other things start sneaking in. I’m just going to worry about what I need to do.”

Kafka, who spent time with Philadelphia in 2010 and 2011 before being released by New England this past offseason, has completed 7 of 14 passes for 27 yards with an interception in the preseason. He completed 2 of 3 passes for 12 yards against Philadelphia.

“You can’t count numbers,” Kafka said. “For a quarterback, you just have to do your job. You just have to do the best you can, and at the end of the day, you can live with the work you put out there.”

Also around the Jaguars Tuesday:

*Shorts said he likes the state of the receiving corps entering the season. While he said the team will miss Justin Blackmon during his four-game suspension to start the season – and while Shorts believes he and Blackmon have a chance to develop into one of the league’s top receiving duos – he said a young group with players such as Ace Sanders and Mike Brown have shown they can produce early in Blackmon’s absence. “I’m very confident in them – by committee or by one person, they’ll do a great job,” Shorts said. “They understand the offense, which is huge. They understand the signals, the play-calling and what we want do to. They’ll make plays when it presents itself.”

*Bradley said backup running back Justin Forsett will be on the roster despite not having played in preseason because of a turf toe injury. “He’s a guy that we know what he brings and know what he’s all about,” Bradley said. “It will be good to get him back though. He’s an excellent change-of-pace-type back, very good on third downs for us and blocking the protection so he adds a strong value to our team.”

*Blackmon practiced Tuesday for the final time before beginning of his four-game suspension to start the regular season. Blackmon will be allowed to be at the facility and attend meetings during his suspension, but he may not practice or play. He also is expected to play Thursday. “The good thing is he can be around us the four weeks,” Bradley said. “He can be here. I don’t think he can be out at practice but he can be in our meetings. He can be around the team. He can be in the locker room, so I think it’s a great move by the NFL to allow that to happen. To keep him around this environment I think is a good thing.”

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