JACKSONVILLE – Around the Jaguars these days, “competition” is more than just a word.
The ideas of competing and getting better every day?
That’s real stuff, not just stuff Head Coach Gus Bradley says in press conferences. That’s true at every position, and two days into the Jaguars’ 2013 voluntary veteran minicamp, this much is certain:
However strong the desire of some to know who’s starting “right now,” “as we speak,” it’s absolutely true at quarterback position.
“I appreciate what the fans want to hear right now, but we’ve had one practice, and we’ve had whatever amount of meetings – seven?,” offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch said Wednesday shortly before the second of three veteran minicamp practices at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness practice fields.
“We have two guys competing as hard as the possibly can to put themselves in position to be the starting quarterback. I think they need to have tunnel vision. I think they need to focus on what they can control and not focus on really anything other than that.”
And as far as a favorite for the spot?
“We don’t have that,” Fisch replied.
Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft and the player some observers assume is the starter, said he is fine with the competition concept.
“We don’t worry about that,” Gabbert said. “My goal is to go out and get better every day. That’s what it boils down to. That’s everybody’s goal on this football team. Our biggest focal point is getting better on a daily basis.”
Gabbert started the first 10 games last season before sustaining a season-ending forearm injury. Henne started six games after that, and the duo finished the season statistically similar. Henne said it’s his understanding that the competition is open.
“I hope so – that’s what they said,” Henne said. “I’ll just be out there competing every day to make the decisions for the coaches and the general manager. That’s the only thing you can ask for as a professional athlete, is competition. It’s only going to make you better. There’s going to be a lot of pressure, but if you’re a quarterback you want that pressure, because there’s pressure on you at all times. That’s what makes us grow and become great quarterbacks.”
General Manager David Caldwell has said since his January hiring the position will be decided by competition, and that a player could be added to the position through free agency or through the April 25-27 NFL Draft.
That hasn’t happened yet, but the players involved expect it will.
“We have two quarterbacks on the roster, so we know we have to have more going into camp,” Gabbert said. “We can’t worry about that.”
Fisch said Gabbert and Henne each performed well in Tuesday’s opening day of minicamp, and while he cautioned throughout his media availability Wednesday that the team had completed just one practice, he said he liked what he saw from each player.
“It was a good start,” Fisch said. “That was their first time on the field. They both did a really good job of leading the team and kicking things off. This is an opportunity for them to really take control and see who’s going to prepare at a certain level and see who’s going to go out and lead this team and manage it. They both did a great job of that.”
Fisch said there was no significance to when either player received snaps in practice, and that the players are rotating reps with the first team.
“At some point in time, when we’re playing games, the starter will get the reps first,” Fisch said. “At this point in time, we’re just rotating through because it wouldn’t be fair to evaluate somebody if they were always taking reps with a second-team group. Right now, we’re rotating through.”