That’s not the case, not given Henne’s history, and the Jaguars’ quarterback has been around long enough to know that his return to where he began his NFL career is an obvious, unavoidable focus for many this weekend.
But as far as approach?
As far as how Henne has prepared for Sunday’s game, and how he is trying to think of it? In that sense, Henne said he’s approaching it as routinely as possible.
“I’m going to prepare like it’s a normal game,” Henne said as the Jaguars (2-11) prepared to play the Miami Dolphins (5-8) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday at 1 p.m.
How Henne’s return will play out remains to be seen.
But while that won’t be the only focus – there also is the return to health of Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts and whether the Jaguars can play the complete game they have sought much of the season – it is indeed a storyline.
Henne, a five-year veteran who moved into the Jaguars’ starting quarterback role four weeks ago, spent the past four seasons with the Dolphins. The team made him a second-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, and he started at quarterback for the Dolphins from 2009 until he sustained a shoulder injury four games into last season.
Once, he was the Dolphins’ quarterback of the future.
Now, after signing with the Jaguars as a free agent this past offseason and taking over as the starter for
“I think there’s something there,” Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. “I think guys like to go back and show what they’re capable of and they’ve been there and want to beat their old team.”
At the same time, Mularkey said the impact of the situation is minimal.
“I don’t know if there’s anything more than that – not like out to prove anything,” Mularkey said. “I just think it’s winning, having the last word when going into the offseason. Chad has a place down in Ft. Lauderdale still, so I know he’s got a lot of good friends down there.
“I don’t think it’s anything bigger than that.”
However big the Henne storyline, it’s far from the only one for the Jaguars Sunday. One of the biggest is the return of Shorts, who missed a loss to the Jets last week with a concussion.
Shorts, who leads the Jaguars this season with seven touchdown receptions, practiced this week. He is expected to play, and he needs 176 yards receiving in the final three games to become the first Jaguars receiver since Jimmy Smith in 2005 to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
Shorts’ return comes with five Jaguars players – running back
With Jones-Drew and Jennings out, seven-year veteran
While Owens registered his career-best day, Henne struggled for a second consecutive week, a trend he and the Jaguars’ offense must reverse Sunday.
Henne since replacing Gabbert has thrown for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns, but after 615 yards and six touchdowns in his first two games he threw for 387 yards and one touchdown in losses to Buffalo and the New York Jets.
Still, Mularkey reiterated this week that Henne has a chance in the final three games to enhance his status as the starter, something Henne said this week was far more important than playing in a place he used to call his home stadium.
“I want to prove where I belong here in Jacksonville, not to anybody in Miami,” Henne said. “I had my opportunity there, so it is what it is and we’re here in Jacksonville and happy here and I want to prove to this organization that I can get it done here.
“I enjoyed my time in Miami. Sometimes things don’t work out, but I’m happy here in Jacksonville. Whether I have to prove anything to Miami, I don’t think I have to prove anything. I have to prove something to the Jacksonville Jaguars and something to my teammates that I can help win and go down the stretch in winning terms.”
While Henne struggled at times in two full seasons as a starter with the Dolphins, he said he learned from that experience, and gained from it.
“I moved on and I take it as a positive,” he said. “I never took it as a negative that they didn’t give me the most of my opportunities. I felt they did, and I did the best of what I can do down there. I just think I’m more experienced and understand a lot more and feel a lot more confident in what I can do out there.”
And, while Henne is too experienced to say Sunday holds no special meaning, the task he faces in Jacksonville is big enough a homecoming can’t take priority.
“I mean I’m sure there are going to be emotions once I get there obviously,” he said. “I’ve got to handle those emotions, but at the same time I’m just going to prepare like it’s a regular week not worried about that not make it a distraction and just go out and play my game.”