David Garrard says he's back where he wants to be: practicing and – he hopes – playing.
Garrard, the Jaguars' starting quarterback, has been out nine days with a back injury sustained early in 2011 Training Camp. He returned to practice during the team's Saturday morning walkthrough, and said he expects to practice when the team works in shells Saturday night.
He also said he expects to play against the Atlanta Falcons Friday.
"I'm not going to try to overdo myself with too many extra things, but I'm going to try to go through practice," Garrard said, adding, "It's calmed down and cooled down quite a bit. I'm happy with the way things have gone."
Garrard missed the Jaguars' preseason opening-loss to New England Thursday, with rookie first-round selection Blaine Gabbert starting in his place. Garrard said had the New England game been a regular-season game he likely would have played, but likely with a pain-killing injection.
"I probably would have had to get shot up or something like that," he said. "My only thing is, that's a scary thing, to numb the pain so that you can do out there. I don't want to be like some of these guys you see who are retired and they come back and they can barely stand up.
"But I'm sure I could have (played) and I'm sure I would have. I'm a competitor and I want to be out there with the guys."
Garrard, who said the area has been strengthened by ice, stretching and rest, said he worked on the field with Jaguars Head Trainer Matt Ryan Friday.
"It felt good then, and it didn't get too sore overnight or anything," Garrard said. "I felt good."
Garrard said his issue was something close to a bulging disc.
"It was just kind of a reaction, my body saying, 'You need to rest this area right now,'' Garrard said. "I did."
Garrard, the Jaguars' starter since 2007, said doctors have told him the issue likely has stemmed from taking hits over the course of a 10-year NFL career. Still, Garrard – who is one of the NFL's more mobile quarterbacks and who often hurts defenses by running – said he won't change his style.
"I think I just play the way I play," Garrard said. "It's going to be hard to tell me to stop. The only way to stop is to tell me to get off the field. I'm just going to keep playing. I can't worry about that stuff when I'm out there in action, but I can do more maintenance and more rehabbing to make sure I keep those symptoms away."