When they signed him, he was little more than a training camp arm. Nate Hybl, however, is getting a lot of playing time for a guy with no chance to make the team. Maybe, in fact, Hybl has moved into the Jaguars' thought process.
In Saturday morning's mock game at Alltel Stadium, Hybl got a lot of work and produced one of the big plays of the two-hand-tag game when he arched a perfect spiral that dropped softly into the hands of rookie wide receiver Chad Owens. It was one of two big plays by the offense, the other having been a leaping catch by Ernest Wilford of a David Garrard deep ball.
So, what does it all mean? Is Hybl really in the running for a job?
"When your time is limited, you have to take advantage of any reps you get. Fighting your way up from the bottom is the way it works," Hybl said.
He's number four on the depth chart; make no mistake about it. Quinn Gray has firmly established himself as the Jaguars' number three guy, but let's not forget that Hybl was with Carl Smith in Cleveland and when the new offensive coordinator makes a point of bringing you with him, that would suggest a certain level of interest and comfort in your skills.
"Every decision has a consequence. I don't want to let coach Smith down. I think the reason he brought me in is to be a big presence in the meeting room in the summer," Hybl said.
"They had three good quarterbacks before I got here. I've been so impressed with Quinn Gray. It's stiff, stiff competition. I'm not worried about the outcome. You would go insane if you thought about cut days," he added.
The preseason is the proving ground for backup quarterbacks. Hybl may have an opportunity in next Saturday's preseason opener against Miami to show what he can do with Smith's offense in game conditions. Any chance of pushing deeper into the quarterback competition will rest with a strong performance in whatever preseason action Hybl receives.
"He's done a nice job the last two days," quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson said of Hybl's performance in Friday night's scrimmage and Saturday's mock game. "He knows the system and when he's had his chances he's done well."
"As a four, you have to earn their trust," Hybl said. "I was also running down on kickoff coverage. You just do what you're told."
The Jaguars are off tomorrow and begin their second week of training camp with practices at 10:15 a.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Monday.