David Garrard says his first option will be to pass the football, but he won't hesitate to use his legs to get a first down.
"I have the ability to run the ball. I want to pass. I want to get the ball out of my hands and to the better athletes. If I can tuck it away and get the first (down), what's wrong with that?" Garrard told reporters on Wednesday, the first day of the Jaguars' practices for this Sunday's game in Cleveland.
Garrard is the popular choice of Jaguars fans who want to see a running quarterback. Byron Leftwich, of course, is a pocket passer whose running skills are limited. Garrard, on the other hand, may pose more of a threat to opponents as a runner than as a passer. In relief of Leftwich last Sunday in Arizona, Garrard ran six times for 61 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run.
"I'm going to do whatever the defense dictates," Garrard said.
That introduces the major question coach Jack Del Rio and his staff face this week: What will the Browns present in the way of a defensive strategy? Will they crowd the line of scrimmage with a lot of run blitzes and sell out to stop the run and pressure the quarterback, as the Titans did two weeks ago? Or will the Browns sit back in a bend-but-don't break scheme that has been the Browns' strategy for most of the year?
"The unknown," Del Rio called it. "There's no crystal ball."
Garrard is likely to be the Jaguars' quarterback through the remaining five games of the regular season, as Leftwich heals from the broken ankle he sustained early in the win over the Cardinals. Quinn Gray is the only other quarterback on the Jaguars roster and Gray has never played in an NFL game. Do the Jaguars dare risk injury to Garrard by allowing him to run?
"We're going to let him play football. We want to embrace what he is. We're not asking David to turn into Michael Vick. We just want him to help us play winning football," Del Rio said in an intentionally ambivalent response. Del Rio has never been one to give away trade secrets.
"We have to see what he does. There's no reason to forecast. We get to see him play," Del Rio added.
Yeah, that's where the situation stands. It's go time for Garrard and all of his backers who had long called for him to replace Leftwich. The moment is at hand and it'll stay that way for the next five weeks. Here's David.
"We'll be able to recognize the Jaguars offense. There may be a few wrinkles where I'm running the ball," Garrard said.
There might even be a few wrinkles where Fred Taylor is running the ball. Del Rio told reporters Taylor would practice on Wednesday and that it was hoped Taylor would be able to play in Cleveland. "We'd like to make that decision before Sunday," Del Rio said.
Taylor has been nursing an ankle sprain for the past month and did not play in Arizona. The Jaguars' injury report was to be released following the Wednesday practice and it was thought Taylor would be listed as "probable."
In shuffling the roster this week, the Jaguars put linebacker Jamie Winborn on the injured reserve list due to a deep thigh bone bruise that wasn't responding quickly enough, activated running back Rich Alexis from the practice squad and signed quarterback Nate Hybl and linebacker Steve Baggs to the practice squad. Wide receiver Fred Stamps was cut from the practice squad to make room.