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Gabbert hoping for the best

Posted Nov 21, 2012

Jaguars Coach Mike Mularkey says former backup Henne can win the job in final six weeks

Blaine Gabbert’s stint as a backup only lasted a couple of days.

Gabbert, the Jaguars’ starting quarterback for the last 24 games, on Wednesday was placed on injured reserve, officially ending his season two days after Head Coach Mike Mularkey had announced the former backup quarterback Chad Henne would start Sunday.

Gabbert sustained a right forearm injury against Houston Sunday that forced him from the game after seven plays.

“It’s something you don’t want to have to deal with, but at the same time, it’s a risk that is part of the game,’’ Gabbert said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-9) prepared to play the Tennessee Titans (4-6) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

“I’m hoping for the best and (that it’s) something that can be corrected and healed up fairly quickly.”

The move to place Gabbert on the season-ending injured reserve list came the same day the Jaguars made the same move with wide receiver Laurent Robinson, who late in the loss to Houston sustained his fourth concussion of the year.

 “We just thought this was the right thing for us,” Mularkey said Wednesday, adding that making the moves this week will allow the two players “to get the healing process going much quicker.”

The move solidified Henne’s status as a starter, and Mularkey said the former Miami Dolphins starter will have a chance to win the job on a permanent basis if he plays well the final six games.

 “I would say when the season was over with, I could probably say, ‘Yes,’ based on finishing the year that way,’’ Mularkey said, adding that Henne has a chance to win the job because, “They all do. Every player does.

“Every game they play they have a chance to keep their job or earn their job.”

Henne, who started 31 games from 2009-2011 for the Dolphins, completed 16 of 33 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions Sunday.

“Hopefully, I can keep it going from last week, and give this offense a spark we’ve been missing,” Henne said. I’m really excited with what we’re doing. We’ll see what happens. This game isn’t just about one position, but the better the quarterback plays, the more points and the better the offense plays.”

Henne’s performance Sunday came four games after he struggled after replacing Gabbert in an overtime loss at Oakland, completing 9 of 20 passes for 71 yards and no touchdowns.

“The Oakland game wasn’t like this game,” Mularkey said. “He was very productive (against Houston). He got the same amount of reps, and he came out and made a lot of things happen. That’s what we’re looking for, to find the production that’s going to help us win the game.”

The Jaguars on Wednesday signed veteran quarterback Jordan Palmer, who spent the preseason with the Jaguars. He will backup Henne Sunday, Mularkey said.

Mularkey had made the announcement on Monday that Henne would be the starter this week whatever Gabbert’s status. Mularkey said on Wednesday that the team at the time didn’t know Gabbert would be placed on injured reserve.

“I appreciate what he’s seen out there, and appreciate him believing in me,” Henne said. “I feel this locker room believes in me.”

The move to place Gabbert on injured reserved came a day after he visited orthopedic specialist James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. That examination revealed the forearm situation more serious than originally thought – and because it was determined his recovery time would be extended.

Gabbert had played through an injury to his non-throwing (left) shoulder since an October 28 loss at Green Bay. Gabbert said he will undergo surgery on the left shoulder Monday, but that he hopes to avoid surgery on the forearm issue.

“That’s still up in the air,” Gabbert said of surgery on the forearm, adding that he has been told the injury does not involve nerves.

“The biggest thing for me is I’ve got to get healthy,” Gabbert added. “I’ve been playing through the shoulder for five weeks now and the arm keeping me out, I have to get that fixed. We’re going to ahead and do that because it was only a matter of time. My job right now is to support the guys in this locker room.”

Of the timing of the injury, Gabbert added, “You never want that to happen. Missing six games now, it’s tough to live with. It’s tough to swallow. But at the same time, you have to try and take every positive out of the situation and know that you’re going to come back stronger and healthier than you were before.”

Mularkey said the hope is to get Gabbert back early in the off-season so that he can participate as much as possible in the team’s off-season program.

“The earlier we can take care of him, the earlier we’re going to get him back,” Mularkey said. “That had a lot to do with it.”

Gabbert, asked about his situation long-term, replied, “You can’t worry about that.”

“There always is going to be competition on any football team at any position in any given season,” he said. “It’s my job to come back and work my tail off like I will and like I have and get my job back. I’m a competitive person. I want to see other people succeed, but at the same time personally you have to succeed yourself.”

Mularkey called Robinson’s situation concerning.

Robinson, who signed as a free agent from the Dallas Cowboys in the off-season, sustained a concussion during training camp, then missed three games in October when he sustained two more concussions.

He sustained a fourth one in overtime Sunday.

“Any concussion is serious, but to have four is ‘very,’’’ Mularkey said. “I know that’s not a good thing and not something we want to deal with for him. That’s why we did what we did. That is a significant injury. Each guy is different, and hopefully he’ll come back from it, but I don’t know.”

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