JACKSONVILLE – Jake Luton remains the Jaguars' biggest story.
The theme to that story remains simple and unknown, because the rookie quarterback simply is key to Sunday's game against the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field – and how he will handle his situation remains unknown until he takes real NFL snaps.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone has emphasized that all week.
He did so again Friday.
"You just don't know," Marrone said when asked how he expects Luton will fare in his first professional game Sunday at 1 p.m. "I've not evaluated that. That's the one thing that I don't know.
"Everything tells me it's going to be fine. His skill level is high. His ceiling's high. We've talked about that all week. But I think until you get out there and do it, it remains to be seen."
Luton, a sixth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, spent the first seven games as a reserve. Gardner Minshew II, the Jaguars' starter in the first seven games, on Friday was ruled out of Sunday's game with a thumb injury.
Luton, who passed for 2,714 yards and 28 touchdowns with three interceptions last season at Oregon State, has a strong arm and prototypical NFL size at 6-feet-6, 224 pounds. Marrone also said Friday Luton has handled preparation well this week.
"He's kind of a business-like approach guy; he just wants the information," Marrone said. "He just really absorbs a lot information. There are things you see in practice that you think he can [execute] in a game: He'll be able to get rid of the ball with a quick release and be able to get the ball over the top because of his height and things of that nature. …
"I see things in practice, but I've been around this long enough to know that practice and games are two different things. That's where it counts – in the performance. I feel good about where he's at. I feel confident. I feel he will be able to do it. I have all the confidence in the world in that or else we wouldn't put him out there.
"Now, it remains to be seen how he performs."
Marrone also on Friday addressed a pass rush that has struggled much of this season before showing progress with a sack and six quarterback hits in the team's last game before this past Sunday's bye week – a 39-29 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
"It comes in stages," Marrone said. "If you're not getting to the quarterback then the next thing you're looking at is obviously quarterback hits, pressures … things of that nature. Obviously, the final is the sacks. A lot of time it's a combination of coverage and what's going on.
"Teams that can rush four and get pressure with four rushing have great success, so for us those guys starting to come on is good. But we'll still need to obviously keep thinking of ways to get to the quarterback."
The Jaguars on Friday ruled three players out for Sunday's game: running back Devine Ozigbo (hamstring), linebacker Dakota Allen (ankle) and Minshew. Rookie linebacker Shaq Quarterman was listed as questionable entering the weekend after being added to the game status report with a knee injury. All other Jaguars players were removed from the report, meaning players such as weak-side linebacker Myles Jack (knee) and safety Jarrod Wilson (hamstring) – both of whom missed the Chargers loss with injuries – are expected to be available Sunday.