It's been a whirlwind offseason for David Garrard, highlighted by a rich, long-term contract that leaves no doubt who the Jaguars' quarterback is and will be for, well, a long time. Now, it's back to work.
"You can't rely on last year. You have to continue to try to get better," Garrard told reporters following the Jaguars' second OTA practice of the spring on Thursday.
Garrard said he wants to improve his overall game. "There's not one particular thing I'm thinking of. I'm young in this. This is only my second year as a starting quarterback," he said.
His coordinator, Dirk Koetter, is in his second year in charge of the Jaguars offense, too, and Koetter believes familiarity with what was a new system will breed a significant degree of improvement.
"Last year, it was a new passing system and my first year as coach. Now, we've had a chance to know why things were successful and why things weren't successful. Dave was going week to week last year. The nuances of Dave anticipating what's coming, based on the defensive look … anyone can always improve on anticipating what's coming," Koetter said.
Garrard's strength last season was the surprising accuracy and efficiency he displayed. He threw only three interceptions and posted a 102.2 passer rating. This year, Koetter would like to blend in more aggressiveness in the deep-passing game.
"We'd like to improve Dave as a deep-ball thrower. Dave is a good seam thrower but, the over-the-top routes, we're trying to get better in those," Koetter said.
Spring, of course, is the perfect time of the year for players to work on and hone their individual skills.
"We're installing about 15 pass plays a day. We're throwing a lot at them," Koetter added.
One of the pass plays the Jaguars installed on Thursday included a dazzling catch by wide receiver acquisition Jerry Porter. Porter made a break to the inside but Garrard's pass was low and to the outside, causing Porter to twist, dive and reach, all of which resulted in a completion against cornerback Drayton Florence.
"I think he's going to be a great receiver here. He's a receiver who can make spectacular plays," Garrard said of Porter.
Garrard made enough spectacular plays last season to become Jacksonville's hottest new sports celebrity.
"I don't think I went out anywhere without people shaking my hand or wanting an autograph. Everybody knows the opportunity we have and we're excited about it," Garrard said.
This is a spring Garrard has never previously known because this is the first spring of his career that he isn't the Jaguars' backup quarterback. This is the first spring of Garrard's career that he is the Jaguars' starting quarterback.
"I think they definitely know now. There's no question. The team knows I'm here as the starting quarterback," Garrard said.
With the new fame and fortune come greater expectations. Does he feel pressure from those expectations?
"Not at all," Garrard said. "It's really prepared me for my future and the rest of my years in this league," he said of his time waiting in the wings.
In other news, defensive tackle Rob Meier has agreed to a five-year contract extension. Meier is set to replace the departed Marcus Stroud in the starting lineup and the combination of his new contract and his starting job led Meier, a man of few words, to exclaim: "I'm really excited."
Rookies report on Friday and will practice with veterans for the first time on Monday.