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Henne gets second chance


And so begins the Chad Henne era...

The week that will end Sunday when the Jaguars try to win at home for the first time this season will be remembered as one of change, and it's too early to know how else it will be remembered – except for this:

It is without question the week Henne officially got his chance.

And that chance begins Sunday in a big way.

"We'll see what happens," Henne said as the Jaguars (1-9) prepared to play the Tennessee Titans (4-6) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

"It all depends on how we play."

Henne, named the starting quarterback for Sunday in the wake of an impressive performance in Houston last week in relief of injured Blaine Gabbert, solidified that status Wednesday when the Jaguars placed Gabbert on injured reserve.

Henne, a fifth-year veteran who signed with the Jaguars as a free agent this past offseason after 31 starts with Miami the past three seasons, this week worked extensively with the first team for the first time this season.

"I think we had really good-tempo practices," Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said.

Henne earned the start for Sunday by throwing for four touchdowns and 354 yards in an overtime loss to Houston, prompting Mularkey on Monday to name him the starter against Tennessee no matter Gabbert's status.

Mularkey on Wednesday said that Henne will have a chance to win the starting job permanently if he plays well the final six games.

And while Mularkey said he doesn't like the word "spark," he said the team practiced well with Henne this week.

"On Thursday, we had a couple of plays left in practice, and Chad made a throw in red-zone (drills)," Mularkey said Friday. "(Rookie wide receiver Justin) Blackmon made probably the catch of the year – one handed. To watch the whole team, this one-and-nine team, react like that to their teammates . . . I ended practice right there.

"The way they responded to each other – whether that had to do anything with Chad Henne or not, I don't know, but they had good energy out there."

Henne, a second-round selection by Miami in the 2008 NFL Draft, started 13 games for the Dolphins in 2009 and 14 in 2010, throwing for 27 touchdowns and 6,179 yards with 33 interceptions during that span. He started the first four games last season, throwing for 868 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions before separating his left (non-throwing) shoulder and being placed on injured reserve.

"It's all there," Henne said of his chance to start Sunday and begin earning a starting job with a second franchise. "Now it's just go out there and perform and get this win at home is the biggest key."

Winning at home is something the Jaguars haven't done this season, and in fact, they have struggled enough at EverBank Field that it has become a theme for the season.

The Jaguars have played five home games, losing all five by a cumulative 153-44, and losing all five games by at least 17 points. They have fared better in five road games, losing three in overtime, beating the Colts in Week 3 and losing in Green Bay by nine points.

"I haven't seen a difference in their psyche," Mularkey said. "I have not seen something that says 'boy this is going to be...' We played 10 games. I have felt like we have been prepared to play. I felt confident that we were prepared to play, home or away.

"I haven't said 'Oh my gosh we're home . . . they're looking funny.' I can't explain why it's taken place that we haven't played as well here. At some point we are. I'm hoping again it is this week, but there's no clear cut reason why we have not."

Said Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri, "We just have to go out and play the game the same way. We can't differentiate. We can't change how we play because we're at home and then play a certain way when we're on the road. We have to be that same team every week.

"I think this will be a great opportunity for us to prove that."

Henne said it's difficult to ignore the home-away trend, though the support of the fans through five home losses has remained a positive.

"What's great about this town is that we do have support," he said. "The fans keep showing up each and every game no matter win or loss. They believe in us, we believe in them and we just really need to get a win for them, especially here."

Defensive end Jeremy Mincey said while players have perhaps been overanxious to perform well at home, he also believes in the wake of a 43-37 overtime loss last week to 10-1 Houston, "I think guys are coming into their own."

"I hate that it's so late down the road, but it's one of those things you have to nip in the bud," he said. "We have to win this game against Tennessee. We have three home games left, and it can be a different story the last three games. We showed against Houston. It's there. We just have to get some momentum going into next year."

And whatever the venue, the hope is that the beginning of the Henne era – if that's how the week indeed is remembered – can bring a spark, even if that's not a word Mularkey likes to use.

"He did a great job," left tackle Eugene Monroe of Henne. "I see him work every day in practice, so it was nothing new to me. We put forth a better offensive effort than we had. Hopefully, we'll build off of that. It always stinks losing, but there were some positives that happened last game, so when that happens, you want to build off of that."

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