David Garrard won't say there won't be a bit of anxiety come Friday.
But for now, Garrard said he's not focused on that, and that overall, he couldn't be more pleased with the progress of the back injury that limited him early in training camp and kept him out of the preseason opener this past Thursday.
"I'm feeling good," Garrard said Monday between a pair of Jaguars 2011 Training Camp practices, adding that his "back is feeling pretty good. It hasn't had too much of a flare up or anything after that, just a little aches and pains but nothing to slow me down."
Garrard returned to practice on Saturday, and has worked with the starting unit since.
"We've begun talking about how much we're going to play guys this week. I haven't settled on that yet but it looks like he's going to be able to play and then we'll go from there in terms of determining how much we want him to play," Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said, adding that while he is reluctant to guarantee Garrard will play Friday. "I think it looks like he's going to play and so we'll see how the week progresses."
Garrard, as has been the case since his return, said Monday he is confident he will not only practice throughout the week, but play against the Falcons.
"I feel great," Garrard said. "I don't feel like I'm quite 100 percent, but I'm in the 90's. There have been plenty of times that I have been in the 90's for many games and nobody has ever known. I'm fine, nothing but little aches and pains really."
Garrard, who missed the season-finale last season with a finger injury, hasn't played since a Week 16 loss to the Washington Redskins. The Jaguars' practice Sunday featured perhaps their most intense physical activity of training camp, and the most 11-on-11 work of the two-week session.
Still, because the Jaguars – like most NFL teams – don't allow their quarterbacks to take full-contact hits during practices, Garrard said there is some anxiousness about how his back will respond to game situations.
"That will be interesting to see how that feels," Garrard said. "I'm sure at some point during the game I will probably get touched. I'm hoping not to, but I'm sure somebody will find their way to me, maybe a little later like normal. Getting that first shot out of the way will be a good thing just so I can move on from there and just continue to do my job."
Garrard also on Monday discussed:
*The development of rookie guard Will Rackley, who has worked at the starting left guard position throughout camp: "That has been really an awesome thing because he's stepped in there and I haven't really noticed too much from his side, especially when I was watching practices. He stepped right in and it has been really seamless and it seems like he's on top of everything. That's a good positive thing to see, somebody that's young like that to be able to step in without a hitch. . . . Usually when there's a rookie on the offensive line you hear a lot of yelling after a couple of practice plays, but there really hasn't been any directed to him. You kind of notice that kind of thing in meetings too, when somebody's name is getting called quite often, and his doesn't."
*The importance of working with running back Maurice Jones-Drew and tight end Marcedes Lewis in the preseason: "You want to be able to say that all of your core guys are out there working hard and getting their chemistry together. When guys are battling different things in the preseason you have to be smart about that because you're not trying to win right now in the preseason, you're trying to win in the regular season. When you go out there you want to win those ball games, but you want to do it with the guys that are healthy and you're not trying to shoot guys up and hope that they can go out there and play through their injuries and that kind of stuff." . . . A guy like Marcedes and a guy like Maurice, they are going to be able to get right in and be almost pinpoint with their stuff."
*Jones-Drew's desire to play in the preseason after off-season knee surgery: "We were just talking about how long practice is when you're over there riding a bike. It's no fun just watching the guys. He is definitely itching to get back out here, but I know Maurice, he's been in the league long enough now to know that he needs to be fully healthy before he gets out there and starts getting pounded. You know him, he doesn't pass up any chances to run somebody over. He will run right through you. He knows he has to be completely healthy and we want him to be completely healthy."