JACKSONVILLE – Blaine Gabbert will start the preseason opener.
That was the big news following the Jaguars' final walkthrough in preparation for Friday's game against Miami at EverBank Field, with Head Coach Gus Bradley saying Gabbert will start and share repetitions with Chad Henne.
"He's been progressing," Bradley said of Gabbert Thursday following a two-hour walkthrough at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness practice fields.
"We feel good about how he (Gabbert) 's progressed. We talked about both of them, but as a staff, we just decided that some of the reps that Blaine has gotten – and he's shown really good progress – we decided we'd start off with him."
Gabbert, who started Saturday's scrimmage at EverBank Field, and Henne have split repetitions with the first- and second-team offense throughout training camp.
Bradley said that will be the approach Friday.
"What I love about our mindset is that I truly believe Chad and Blaine are competing against themselves," Bradley said. "It's such a good situation for us. They make each other better."
Bradley said he hasn't yet decided if Henne will start next week against the New York Jets in the second preseason game. He had said earlier in camp that it was possible Henne and Gabbert would each start in the preseason.
"We just decided (this) last night," Bradley said. "We're still looking it as a competition. We haven't discussed what we're doing Saturday, much less what we're doing next week with the quarterback position."
Bradley said Gabbert has shown poise throughout camp.
"He handles situations that have been presented to him in practice," Bradley said. "They both have done some really good things. . . . We just felt with Blaine – what he's done the last couple of days in practice and how he's responded . . . we decided to give him the nod."
Quarterback wasn't the only news Thursday. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars' three-time Pro Bowl running back, will miss the game as a precautionary measure while returning from offseason foot surgery, and wide receiver Cecil Shorts III will miss the game with a left calf strain.
Bradley said Jones-Drew felt he was ready to play Friday.
"He's taken some reps, but we just felt with his conditioning, he may be just a short period of time away," Bradley said.
Defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick (groin), running back Justin Forsett (toe), wide receiver Justin Blackmon (groin), safety Johnathan Cyprien (hamstring), cornerback Lionel Smith (quadriceps), cornerbacl Jeremy Harris (back) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (concussion) also will not play.
Cyprien (hamstring) remained on the reserve non-football injury list, and Bradley said early this week Cyprien could return next week. Blackmon (groin) remained on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
PLAY OF THE DAY
The Jaguars' practice Thursday was a walkthrough, with team drills and focus on preparation for Friday's game against Miami.
1.Bradley: "Right now on Friday night, it's about competition. We want to see our guys run. We want to see our guys hit and we want to see our guys compete. Through the whole process, hopefully we see as a team that as the game goes on gets better."
2.Bradley: "I didn't talk to our guys about snap count and here's why. I want our guys going into the game with the mindset they're playing the whole game and just trust that we'll get them out. We don't want out guys to be rep-counters. We want them to be out there performing."
LOOKING ON . . .**
*Blackmon has been out throughout training camp after off-season groin surgery, and although he has not practiced while on PUP, he has been involved daily in practice. Blackmon, expected to start opposite Cecil Shorts III, consistently has been one of the most vocal players in practice, and has been seen regularly talking with younger receivers and cheering on the sidelines. "It's kind of how I always try to be," Blackmon said. "It's a way to stay involved so I'm not just out there sitting. I try to give them energy. Everybody's out there tired, so I try to give them energy they can feed off of."
*Rookie defensive end Paul Hazel has been among the surprise players of training camp. A free agent from Western Michigan, he has gotten pressure during pass-rush drills and live team drills and also got pressure on the quarterback during Saturday's preseason scrimmage. "Everything's going fine," Hazel said. "I feel like I'm getting better. The guys are helping me out, like (defensive ends Jason) Babin and (Andre) Branch, they're telling me what I need to work on. Everybody has been really supportive."