Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio says David Garrard is beyond his days as a caretaker quarterback. No longer is Garrard a run-the-ball quarterback for whom expectations have been lowered and the playbook limited.
"He is a real quarterback. He did a nice job with our offense in the preseason. Yes, we will allow him to do that," Del Rio said when asked if Garrard will have full use of the playbook when the Jaguars host the Tennessee Titans in Sunday's season-opener.
Garrard has been the quarterback of record in 16 of the Jaguars' last 22 games and has quarterbacked the team to 10 wins during that time, but Sunday will mark the first time in Garrard's six-year career that he was a starter on opening day. It is the truest indicator that Garrard's time has arrived.
"David is our quarterback," Del Rio said. "He's our quarterback."
They are sobering words.
"I'm very excited and I know everyone on this team is very excited," Garrard told reporters prior to practice on Wednesday. "I think we can do big things, as long as everyone stays together and prepares as we should."
It is the greatest of irony that Garrard's first game as an official starting quarterback should occur against the team that nearly wrecked his career last season. He threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, in a 24-17 loss at Tennessee in week 15 of last season, and it began a three-game collapse that left the Jaguars out of the playoffs.
"I've learned from it. This is a great opportunity to show what I've learned. There's not a quarterback in the league that hasn't had a day like that," Garrard said. "I felt like I was doing a pretty decent job up to that point."
The NFL has always attempted to create good theater for its opening weekend and, in Garrard's case, the theater couldn't be better.
"I think its just been set up by God," Garrard said of the scheduling.
"We think he's ready to continue his ascent as a player," Del Rio said of Garrard.
The Jaguars were to issue a "practice report" at four p.m. on Wednesday. In previous seasons, an injury report was presented, but that has been replaced this season by a practice report that will list players, their injuries and whether or not they practiced. Injury reports that'll list players as probable, questionable, doubtful or out will be provided on Fridays.
Del Rio provided a preview of Wednesday's practice report. He said linebacker Clint Ingram (ankle) would not practice and safety Reggie Nelson (ankle) would.