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Gabbert likely to play Sunday

Posted Oct 24, 2012

Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert to practice Wednesday, no timetable for RB Maurice Jones-Drew

It appears Blaine Gabbert will play Sunday.

The news is more definite and not as positive regarding the Jaguars’ Pro Bowl running back, with Maurice Jones-Drew having been ruled out Sunday and no firm timetable known after that, according to Head Coach Mike Mularkey.

Gabbert, the Jaguars’ starting quarterback for 20 consecutive games, sustained what Mularkey called a “shoulder injury” against the Oakland Raiders this past Sunday, the same game Jones-Drew sustained a sprained foot.

Gabbert practiced Wednesday, and Mularkey said the plan is for him to start Sunday.

“He’s certainly going to give it a try today in practice,” Mularkey said Wednesday afternoon as the Jaguars (1-5) prepared to play the Green Bay Packers (4-3) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday at 1 p.m.

Jones-Drew sustained his injury on the first play of the Jaguars’ overtime loss in Oakland. He hasn’t missed a game since the regular-season finale of 2010.

“It’s kind of a waiting game right now,” Jones-Drew said Wednesday.

While there has been speculation around each injury throughout the week, Mularkey said the approach with Gabbert is for him to take his normal amount of repetitions in practice this week. That means little or no work for backup Chad Henne with the first team.

Mularkey also said there is no immediate plan to sign a quarterback, though he said practice squad quarterback John Parker Wilson is familiar with the offense.

Gabbert, who completed 8 of 12 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown before leaving the Oakland game midway through the second quarter, said he plans to prepare and start Sunday.

“That’s the plan,” the second-year veteran said late Wednesday morning. “I’m going to practice today. I’ll take it from there.”

Mularkey declined to specify the nature of the injury, though various reports this week have deemed it a torn labrum on his non-throwing shoulder. Mularkey the issue will be whether Gabbert can play through the pain, and that he doesn’t expect it to hinder his performance.

“It’s more mind over matter at this point,” said Gabbert, who added that he spent the early part of the week in Jacksonville preparing for Green Bay.

Gabbert and Mularkey each said Gabbert had thrown a limited number of passes early in the week, leading Mularkey to believe Gabbert can prepare and play Sunday.

Henne, who completed 9 of 20 passes for 71 yards while being sacked three times, said his plan this week is what his approach is every week as a backup – to prepare as if he will play.

“He’s going to go until they tell him he can’t,” Henne said of Gabbert. “I’ve just got to be ready. Preparation is going to pick up for me, but it’s not like I haven’t been prepared the last six weeks.”

Henne said he likely would put in extra time after practice this week working with receivers such as Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, the starters against Oakland.

“I feel confident going in, and confident I’ll play at a high level,” Henne said. “You have to go in and prepare like you’re going to be the starter, but I know Blaine’s a tough guy. If they say he can go, he’ll go.”

If so, Gabbert for the first time in his career will lead an offense into a regular-season game without Jones-Drew, a Pro Bowl selection the past three seasons who led the NFL in rushing last season.

“You have to play as a team,” Gabbert said. “There are 11 guys on the field and it takes every guy every single play. As players, we have to go out and do our job. It’s pretty cut and dry.”

Jones-Drew, who tried several times Sunday to have the foot re-taped, has rushed for 414 yards and a touchdown on 86 carries this season a 4.8-yards-per-carry average.

“It’s disappointing not to be able to go out there and compete,” Jones-Drew said, adding that the play on which he was injured was, “just a routine play. My foot got caught underneath a guy and that’s what happened. It’s just the nature of the game. I get tackled all the time. It just so happens my foot was stuck.”

Rashad Jennings, who started the regular-season opener in place of Jones-Drew after the latter’s preseason holdout, rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown against Oakland. He has rushed for 90 yards on 34 carries and a touchdown this season.

“That’s not production I’m happy with,” Jennings said of the Oakland game, in which he also caught seven passes for 58 yards. “I’ve got to get better.”

Jones-Drew, who was interviewed Wednesday sitting in a chair in the Jaguars’ locker room, said surgery on the foot is not planned “that I know of.” He was asked if he was typically a fast healer. He smiled.

“We’re going to find out,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get this thing ready and be ready to play as soon as possible.”

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