David Garrard is coming off two of his best practice days as a pro quarterback, and his summer heat wave would seem to have arrived just in time for the start of the preseason.
"I really feel that all camp long I've been playing pretty well. It's just feeling more and more comfortable," Garrard said following Wednesday afternoon's practice.
Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters Garrard is scheduled to replace Byron Leftwich at quarterback about 15 plays into this Saturday evening's preseason-opener in Miami. Del Rio said Garrard will see about "15-20" plays of action.
Officially, there is no competition at quarterback. Leftwich is the starter and is having the best training camp of his career. Garrard accepts his return to the backup position, but he's quick to tell anyone he has not resigned himself to a lifetime backup role.
"I know I'm still right there with a chance to play, whether I'm here or with another team," said Garrard, who professes to being aided by an "inner peace."
"I'm comfortable in my family life, comfortable with the position I'm in right now; still hungry, though," he said. "I'm anxious and ready to go. This year, I have a little more calm going into (the preseason).
"I feel old," he laughed. "I feel like I've been doing this for awhile. That gives me inner peace," he added.
Just as Leftwich seems to be benefiting from better passer mechanics, so is Garrard. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and new quarterbacks coach Mike Shula detected from tapes of last year's games a hop in Garrard's back foot as he launched deep passes. It caused him to lose accuracy.
In practice, especially the last two days, Garrard appears to have taken something "off" his fast ball. He appears to be throwing with a less vigorous motion and, possibly as a result, his throws have been deadly accurate. In Wednesday's practice, Garrard fit a pass between two defenders and into the arms of wide receiver Charles Sharon. It was one of many such shots the last two days.
"That was something I was working on in OTA's," Garrard said of keeping his feet under him while throwing. "You'd see on my deep throws that I was hopping."
Garrard also hopes this can be a career-changing season for him. He believes he's prepared to have that kind of a year.
"That's where my game is getting to. I want to be able to make all of the throws," he said.
It's not clear to whom Garrard will be throwing the ball on Saturday. Dennis Northcutt is set to start at wide receiver with Leftwich's number one offense, but that's where the certainty at wide receiver ends.
Matt Jones spent his second consecutive day as a spectator, and Ernest Wilford was limited to riding the bike, following a practice on Tuesday in which Wilford gave the Jags a brief scare. Wilford sustained a sprained knee and was wearing an ice bag as he came off the field on Wednesday.
Jones "tweaked his hamstring a little bit and caught it before it got serious. He's day to day. It's a minor setback and he should be back in action soon," Del Rio said.
Charles Sharon, Reggie Williams, Mike Walker, Jimmy Farris, John Broussard, Roosevelt Kiser and D'Juan Woods got a lot of reps on one of the hottest afternoons in Jaguars training camp history.
Walker got off to a fast start in training camp but has been bothered by a dislocated middle finger on his right hand. He had the ball stripped from his grasp several times on Wednesday.
"It's not a biggie. I can't grip the ball," Walker said.
For players in position and roster battles, circumstances will begin to get real big this Saturday.