David Garrard says he's the same quarterback he was last season and he was joined in the locker room on Wednesday by a familiar face, that of long-time Jaguars guard Chris Naeole.
"It's like an old shirt or an old pair of shorts. You can fit right back into them," Naeole said of rejoining the Jaguars.
Naeole sustained a torn quad muscle last year that ended his season and appeared that it may have ended his career, too. Given the desperate state of the Jaguars offensive line, however, Naeole got the call and Dr. James Andrews gave Naeole the clearance to resume his career.
"I tore the quad off the knee," Naeole said of the injury he suffered in New Orleans at midseason last year. It's a major injury that required surgery and significant rehab, which Naeole completed at Dr. Andrews' rehab institute in Pensacola. Andrews cleared Naeole last Friday to begin playing.
"I have to test the knee and see where I stand. Jack (Del Rio) said we're going to work you in and see how it goes during the week," Naeole said.
Naeole rejoined the Jaguars for what may be the most important game of their season. At 0-2, most are calling this Sunday's game in Indianapolis a must win.
"Nobody wants to start 0-3. This teams knows that so we have to come back with a win," Garrard said.
For the first time since he became the Jaguars' starting quarterback at the start of last season, Garrard and the Jaguars are in a slump. Garrard's thrown three interceptions and just one touchdown pass; he threw three interceptions all of last year. His passer rating, 65.6, is near the bottom of the league's quarterback rankings and is nearly 40 points lower than the rating with which he ended last season.
"I don't think I've changed in any way. I think I'm the same quarterback I was last year," said Garrard, who knows his teammates are looking to him for leadership. "With things not going the way we want, how does he handle it?"
Sunday in brand new Lucas Oil Stadium, Garrard will be facing a Colts defense that will be without its number one player, hard-hitting safety and playmaker Bob Sanders. Running the ball, at which the Jaguars are ranked 28th in the league, should be a lot more inviting with Sanders out of the lineup.
"Last year, when we had the running game going, things were really clicking. It's imperative we run the ball," Garrard said.
You wouldn't know it by their 28th-ranked run-defense, but the Colts' defensive strategy concentrates on stopping the run by crowding the line of scrimmage with defenders and inviting the pass, at which the Colts are fourth in the league in defending.
"They try to stop the run and force you to pass," Garrard said. "I have to put the ball in the right place," he added of the passing game.
"We need some explosive (plays). That's what we haven't had. If we can get them, that'll be the difference in the game, plus protecting the ball. I have to do a better job of that," Garrard added.
The possibility exists that wide receiver Jerry Porter will see his first game action as a Jaguar this Sunday. Porter is thought to be nearing a full recovery from July hamstring surgery.
"Jerry Porter will practice," coach Jack Del Rio said on Wednesday. "When I have to declare on Friday, I will. When he's ready, we'll play him."
Translation: Del Rio won't provide information on Porter's status for Sunday's game until Del Rio is required to do so on Friday's injury report. Even at that, Porter is likely to be listed as questionable, which would make Porter a day-of-the-game decision.
Del Rio characterized the Jaguars' situation as an "0-2 hole; what are we gonna do? We're going to do what we do and do it better," he said.
The Jaguars' inability to convert third downs in the first two games has left Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew with meager 23 and 12 rushing attempts respectively, and Jones-Drew has complained about not getting the ball. Based on Del Rio's comments on Wednesday, Jones-Drew can expect his workload to increase this Sunday.
"We have to get him the ball more. I agree with him. He's an exciting, dynamic football player. We need to find a way to get him touches," Del Rio said.