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Inside the Jaguars: Fisch fine with QB battle


JACKSONVILLE – Jedd Fisch didn't sound worried.

And he certainly didn't sound on Monday like someone in a rush to make one of the biggest decisions facing a franchise, either.

Fisch, in his first year as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, said while public consensus is there hasn't been much to separate Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne in the competition for the starting quarterback position, that's not necessarily a bad thing at this point.

If the battle remains close for a while? Well, Fisch said that's OK.

"Maybe it's a positive, maybe they both continue to get better," Fisch said Monday following the Jaguars' practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.

"So I don't know . . . I think as we look at it if they're continuing to improve, they're going to continue to stay close. If neither is improving then they're going to continue to stay close. I look at it as saying, they're both competing hard, they're both working as hard as they can work and they're both preparing to the point that they're really in control when they go out there."

Fisch spoke two days after a 27-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins in the preseason opener at EverBank Field, a game in which Gabbert started and completed 5 of 10 passes for 19 yards and an interception while Henne completed 8 of 11 passes for 87 yards.

Gabbert had three passes dropped, while Henne led the team's only scoring drive and had two passes batted at the line of scrimmage.

While observers have measured the performance largely based on statistics and success of the drives, Fisch said coaches evaluate differently.

"I thought they both did good things and I think they both would prefer some plays back," Fisch said. "All in all, the way we evaluate them is, did they control the line of scrimmage? Did we have any penalties when they were in the game? Did we have any delay of games? No. False starts? No. . . .

"So all in all I think it was probably typical for what a first preseason (game) was. I think we all expect better the next week."

Also on Monday:

*The offense struggled at times in practice, with Gabbert completing about half his passes in 11-on-11 and Henne completing a little more than half while fumbling twice. The offense capped two red-zone drives with touchdowns on passes from Gabbert to wide receiver Justin Blackmon and tight end Marcedes Lewis. "It was really competitive and it was fun to watch them go at it," Fisch said. "I thought there was the good and the bad, going back and forth. Certain periods were real positive and then other times I thought there were some lulls and then came back positive, lull, then came back positive. I thought it was a pretty cool practice." Fisch said about 90 plays were run, and Bradley said the idea was to make Monday particularly competitive. "We have our 'Competition Wednesday' and that's for tomorrow, but I wanted to get after it right again today," Bradley said.

*Luke Joeckel missed practice Monday with a hip flexor, and Bradley said the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft is day-to-day. "We're going to be cautious," Bradley said. "We're going to be smart with him." Bradley said Joeckel perhaps had been dealing with the issue before the preseason opener against Miami. It's uncertain if Joeckel will play Saturday.

*Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III could return to practice this week, Bradley said, while tight end Isaiah Stanback could miss at least a week with a quadriceps issue. Defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (groin) is day-to-day.

*Although linebacker Russell Allen (bone bruise, ankle) did not practice Monday and is day-to-day, Bradley said the injury he sustained isn't as bad as first thought. Bradley said it's possible Allen won't play Saturday, but specified that he had not sustained a high-ankle sprain.

*While there were several muffed handoffs and errors Monday, Fisch said those mistakes weren't concerning. "Those are things for the first time we've done them so no, I'm not overly concerned about that happening today," he said. "I'd be concerned about it if it happens tomorrow again, but I think today was more along the lines of we were trying to get some plays worked and get some plays run."

*Defensive coordinator Bob Babich on a pass rush that produced multiple pressures and sacks by defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks against Miami Friday: "We only had two sacks in the game so we were a little disappointed in that, but we had some missed opportunities too where  guys didn't take the proper angles. We could have had some other sacks, so there's some improvement to be made."

*With Allen out on Monday, second-year veteran Brandon Marshall worked out outside linebacker, as did rookie free agent LaRoy Reynolds, the latter of whom had been working inside behind Paul Posluszny and impressing early in camp.

*While rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien returned to practice Monday, Bradley his repetitions were limited from the normal four-to-five repetitions starters take during drills. "We'll evaluate where he's at today, and then tomorrow we'll decide if we should up the ante a little bit," Bradley said. Cyprien practiced Monday after being on the non-football injury list since the start of training camp.

*Bradley on the return of wide receiver Blackmon Monday: "He's a competitor. That's where he wants to be, is out on the practice field, getting a chance to compete." Blackmon practiced Monday after being on the Physically Unable to Perform list since the start of camp.

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