JACKSONVILLE – This time matters to Matt Scott. Quite a lot.
That has been true for four months, with the rookie free agent quarterback from the University of Arizona steadily improving throughout the offseason and training camp in his effort to make the Jaguars' 53-man roster.
But these next two weeks? Yeah, there's added importance.
"It's a big opportunity," Scott said Wednesday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Philadelphia Eagles in the third game of the 2013 preseason Saturday at EverBank Field.
Scott's opportunity, as is often the case, came because of injury. With starter Blaine Gabbert out the final two preseason games with a sprained thumb, veteran Chad Henne is working with the first-team offense in practice this week – and he is expected to do the same Saturday.
That means Scott and veteran Mike Kafka, who had worked mostly with the third-team offense in training camp, are getting more chances with the second team.
"Anytime you get a chance with the twos when you haven't been getting that much, it's a huge opportunity to learn," Scott said. "You're trying to show the coaches you know what you're doing out there, and give it a shot. It helps me as a quarterback, getting those reps."
And though the coaches have not decided on a rotation for the Eagles game, Scott could get significant work with the second unit Saturday after working with the third team in Preseason Weeks 1 and 2.
"These guys have got to take advantage of these opportunities," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "Not very often does you starting quarterback have an injury to where the second and thirds are going to get reps like they're going to, so he's got to be ready and prepared.
"It's one play away. I think he's learning that now and he's getting more reps in practice and he will get his opportunity in the game. That's where hopefully all of his preparation and practice time will benefit us."
Scott, who signed as a free agent shortly after the draft, was projected as a mid-round selection by some draft analysts. He has shown athletic ability and NFL arm strength in practice, though he does not appear to have pushed either Gabbert or Henne.
Scott in two preseason games has completed 6 of 17 passes for 51 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.
"It's really just day-to-day," Scott said. "If I make mistakes, I come out the next day and improve on what those mistakes were, and get them corrected. That's progress for me, to eventually cut it down to no mistakes."
Whatever his preseason numbers, Scott has looked progressively better and more comfortable in practice, and appears to have a chance to make the 53-man roster as the third quarterback. Because of Gabbert's injury, the team appears likely to keep three quarterbacks entering the regular-season opener.
"I don't know what they have planned for the game, but whatever they have planned I'm going to go out and execute what they have called for me," Scott said. "There was a time early in camp things started to slow down a little. It's been an ongoing process for me.
"Every day has been a process of trying to get better and improve every day."
Also around the Jaguars Wednesday:
*While the team has not yet ruled out right tackle Luke Joeckel, wanting to let the rookie get some work before the final week of the preseason, Bradley confirmed that tight end Marcedes Lewis will not play against the Eagles Saturday. "We're going to be real cautious with him," Bradley said.
*Justin Forsett is one of the Jaguars' veterans who could miss Saturday, which would be the third consecutive game he has missed with a sprained toe. "It's definitely frustrating to be out," Forsett said. "You've got preseason games going by, and you want to be in there developing chemistry. You want to be out there with them, but what I don't want is to have this injury lingering into the regular season, so it's a balancing act."
*Bradley said the competition for special teams roles – critical in deciding the final 53-man roster – is far from over, adding that it could continue past final preseason cuts into the regular season. "We're always looking to build our special teams," Bradley said. "You'd like to have six or seven core guys that can play at least all core special teams, and we're trying to develop guys to fill that role right now but we're not there yet."
*Former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver attended practice Wednesday with Jaguars President Mark Lamping, marking the first meeting between Weaver and the team's new head coach. "I've heard a lot about him and everything he's done in the community, plus really, the foundation of this organization and bringing it to Jacksonville," Bradley said. "The opportunity to meet him today was a privilege."
*While playing the Eagles means a challenge for the defense because of the up-tempo style offense of Philadelphia Head Coach Chip Kelley, Bradley said the Jaguars' tempo offensively isn't significantly different. The Eagles lead the NFL in fewest time between offensive snaps this preseason with Jacksonville .8 seconds off that pace. "We think it's going to be similar to it," Bradley said, comparing the pace of the Jaguars' offense to teams such as Philadelphia and New England, the latter of which has been one of the quicker-paced offensive teams in recent seasons.