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Del Rio clears air on QB


As coach Jack Del Rio announced on his Tuesday evening radio show, Byron Leftwich will remain the Jaguars' starting quarterback this Sunday when the Jaguars host the Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Bucs.

"Leftwich is our quarterback. I said I would consider if that was something that would give us a spark. I'm done considering," Del Rio told reporters at this afternoon's press conference.

Del Rio said on Monday he was considering giving backup David Garrard his first start of the season. Del Rio said he did not speak to either quarterback on Monday about the potential for a switch at the position.

"Until somebody actually called me and told me I was going to get my turn, I wasn't going to get my hopes up," Garrard said following today's practice. Garrard was the "scout team" quarterback in practice, and took no more snaps than he had in past weeks.

"I just have to sit and wait my turn. Byron's the starter now and I'm behind him 100 percent," Garrard said. "I'm just here for whatever the team needs me for. I don't know what he said it for, but I know it was said for a reason."

Leftwich acknowledged again today that his performance needs to improve, but he was vague in responding to specific questions about Del Rio's comments of this past Monday.

"The only thing I can do is go out there and try to get better. I think I need to get better," Leftwich said, then added: "I'm still the leader of this team and I'm still the quarterback. I'm the starter of this football team. That's how I'm looking at it."

"I thought it was the best decision for our football team," Del Rio said when asked why he settled on Leftwich. "I was very honest and forthright with you on Monday, and I'm being very honest and forthright with you today," he told reporters.

"There's no easy way, guys. I'm going to look at our roster. I'm going to make it competitive where I can. I'm going to be demanding," Del Rio added.

The Jaguars presented an injury report that lists cornerback Fernando Bryant as "doubtful" with a back injury that prevented Bryant from practicing today. If he is unable to play Sunday night, he would be replaced in the starting lineup by Jason Craft.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars have resigned backup cornerback Kiwaukee Thomas to a three-year contract extension and reserve defensive end Lionel Barnes to a two-year deal.

"Looking forward to a great challenge. The team is looking forward to playing in front of the nation," Del Rio said of Sunday night's game with Tampa, which is 5-6 and needing to win its remaining five games to have any chance of making the playoffs. The game will be the Jaguars' lone national TV exposure of the season.

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