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First off the field: Bradley likes Henne’s leadership

Posted Sep 11, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars post-practice update: HC Gus Bradley talks about QB Chad Henne; WR Cecil Shorts III, G Uche Nwaneri limited in practice.

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars didn’t want this situation.

But now that it’s here – now that the team will start its backup quarterback in the second game of the 2013 regular-season – Head Coach Gus Bradley said he is comfortable that it’s happening.

That’s because of Chad Henne.

Henne, who competed with Blaine Gabbert for the starting quarterback position throughout training camp, will start for the Jaguars against the Raiders Sunday, and Bradley said because of the competition – and because of what he has seen from Henne – he is confident in the position.

“He has some strong leadership,” Bradley said of Henne as the Jaguars (0-1) prepared to play the Oakland Raiders (0-1) at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

“Just watching him in the huddle out there, the team gravitates towards him. I know he understands the scheme. It has been beneficial for us that he took as many reps as he did (in training camp).”

Henne and Gabbert took essentially equal repetitions in training camp and early in the preseason, with Gabbert being named the starter after the second preseason game. Gabbert sustained a hand laceration Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs that will keep him out at least a week.

While speaking to reporters earlier Wednesday, Henne said it was his hope to play well enough to keep the job.

“That’s good – I would hope he would say that,” Bradley said. “He’s a competitor. That’s why we have confidence in him playing. I really want him to go out here and capture this and be at his best. That was our conversation today, ‘Don’t wait until Sunday to compete.’”

Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III was limited in practice Wednesday, with guard Uche Nwaneri and wide receiver Mike Brown also limited for precautionary reasons. Nwaneri’s right knee, on which he underwent offseason surgery, “flared up,” according to Bradley, while Brown experienced tightness in his back. Running back Jordan Todman was limited with a shoulder injury, but Bradley said he “should be OK.”

Shorts, the team’s leader in receiving yards last season, had what Bradley called a “little” groin issue. Bradley said the team was cautious with Shorts through practice.

“We really took care of Cecil,” Bradley said. “We got him in on the plays we need to see. On the plays he wasn’t so much involved in, we didn’t have him in there. We just tried to take care of him that way.”

Also on Wednesday:

*Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, defensive end Jason Babin and center Brad Meester all had planned veterans’ days off Wednesday. . . .

*Guard Will Rackley (knee) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf) missed practice, as did cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle). Gratz has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, while Bradley said Lewis is more of a long-shot to play than Rackley. “Lewis might be more of a long shot – Rackley, I don’t believe so,” Bradley said. “We’ll see.” . . .

*With Lewis possibly out, Bradley said the team could rely more on tight end Clay Harbor opposite Allen Reisner. Harbor, claimed off waivers from Philadelphia the Sunday before the regular season, played 12 plays against the Chiefs and caught a five-yard pass. “We like his athleticism,” Bradley said. “We felt like where we were in training camp to now, we’ve upgraded that position. There are some traits there we like. We like his toughness and he’ll put his face in there.” . . .

*Defensive coordinator Bob Babich said the team is confident in both reserve cornerbacks, Will Blackmon and Demetrius McCray, who could get time with Gratz out. Blackmon played in Gratz’s place against the Chiefs Sunday.

*Jones-Drew on moving forward from a season-opening loss to Kansas City: “I think for everybody, it’s just kind of, ‘Calm down.’ You could see we were doing things that we haven’t done all throughout training camp – just relax. I think you’ll see more execution in the second half in this next game. You’ll see younger guys just getting more comfortable. It was a lot of guys’ first time being in an NFL game so it is a little different and we actually did it against a very good team, so we’ll see how things go. We’re still confident in the playmakers that we have and we’re starting to get a little healthier.”

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