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Garrard ready to go

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David Garrard is ready to make his move. Mark Brunell isn't about to yield. Let the competition begin.

It is the story of the preseason. Brunell, the only quarterback this franchise has ever known, is facing what most believe to be a distinct challenge from Garrard.

Are you ready for the drama to unfold? Are you ready for it to be decided whether the Brunell era turns into a ninth season, or Garrard ushers in the most dramatic of changes?

"I said we're going to put the best 11 people on the field. If I did anything else it would be irresponsible," coach Jack Del Rio told reporters today when asked if Garrard can claim the starting quarterback job by outplaying Brunell in the preseason.

It begins this Saturday night in Minneapolis. Del Rio hasn't announced his quarterback rotation, but it's expected Brunell will be the starter and will play through the first quarter. Garrard will probably enter the game in the second quarter and will play through the third.

"I perceive myself to be the starter. If there's any competition it's between me and my 10 other guys against the opposing defense," Brunell said. He sees the job as his, without question or challenge.

Garrard has been careful not to make statements that might be construed as challenging, but he is clearly looking forward to the opportunity to become a player of greater prominence. He wants to compete.

"I view it as showing I can be the starter, if I have to. I just want to show the fans and the coaches I'm ready," said Garrard, who turned in one of his best practices of this training camp this morning. His premier pass was a sideline toss for Jimmy Redmond. Garrard dropped the ball in between Jason Craft and Marlon McCree.

"Personally, I think I'm throwing it pretty good. And sometimes not so nice, but I keep the drives going," Garrard said.

He is the opposite of Brunell, in terms of style. Brunell has always been the consummate finesse quarterback. Garrard is a power player.

Brunell made a name for himself as a crafty scrambler. Garrard is a runner, a former youth football fullback who shakes off defensive linemen as he thunders down the field with a McNair-like lead-footed gait.

"That's who I'd like to mimic," Garrard said of the comparison to Titans quarterback Steve McNair.

Brunell's passes have always been pretty things to watch. They come out of his left hand with an ease and grace common to lefthanders. Garrard throws a heavy ball that thumps his receivers' pads.

It is an almost-too-perfect contrast. And, at least for now, first-round pick Byron Leftwich isn't here to spoil it.

"I really love the offense," Garrard said of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's version of the "West Coast" phenomenon. "I feel as though things are slowing down for me. I feel I'm so far beyond where I was last year."

As a rookie in last summer's preseason, Garrard outplayed Brunell. But, of course, Garrard was a rookie. There was no competition.

This summer, Garrard is a second-year player who was the starter when the Jaguars last played a regular-season football game. He's a 6-2, 234-pound package of not-so-raw talent, and he's facing more than just a challenge from Brunell. If this is to one day be Garrard's team, he must first depose Brunell, then hold off Leftwich, who will eventually sign a Jaguars contract that will insist Leftwich be given every advantage.

"I've never considered myself as a 100 percent accuracy passer, but when the plays need to be made, I feel like I can make the play," Garrard said.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Donald Hayes did not practice today, after having suffered cramps and effects of the heat in yesterday afternoon's practice.

"There's nothing to add to the story. He had a restful night. He's doing well. We expect a full recovery," Del Rio said.

Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud (knee), running back Fred Taylor (knee) and defensive end Hugh Douglas (back) did not practice this morning. Del Rio said Stroud's injury is minor -- though Stroud won't play this Saturday -- and the coach maintained his position on Taylor. "It's best to let it settle down. That's the responsible thing to do," Del Rio said.

When asked if Taylor would play against the Dolphins on Aug. 15, Del Rio said: "We'll see about that."

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