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Is Garrard the future?


David Garrard was expected to take all of the snaps in practice today for the second consecutive day, but coach Tom Coughlin hasn't ruled out Mark Brunell's availability for Sunday's regular-season finale in Indianapolis.

"Every day it's getting a little better and it's getting close," Brunell said of his right hamstring strain, which forced him to the bench in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's loss to Tennessee.

Brunell said "there's a chance" he could be able to practice on Friday, and Coughlin said he would consider putting Brunell in the starting lineup even if he doesn't practice on Friday, provided Brunell is well enough to play on Sunday.

All of that information was intentionally nebulous. What's certain is that Garrard is being groomed with the future in mind.

"It would mean a lot," the rookie fourth-round draft choice said when asked about what would be his first professional start, if he's under center in the RCA Dome Sunday. "For me to get it in my rookie year; that would help me next year, if I have to start."

And with that comment, Garrard may have been intentionally vague. Start? As in the starting quarterback?

Brunell, who's been the team's starting quarterback since he won the job in the team's first-ever win in the fifth game of the 1995 season, is admittedly concerned that the offseason will see him change NFL "addresses."

"There are a lot of question marks for a lot of us in here. That's the nature of the NFL these days. When you've had three consecutive losing seasons, it's hard not to think about what's coming," Brunell told reporters today.

"We put (Tony Boselli) on the expansion list. We thought Jimmy (Smith) and Keenan (McCardell) would be together forever. It's a different time," Brunell added.

Brunell would offer the Jaguars a significant salary cap savings if he was traded or released. The team isn't desperate for cap room in 2003 but could use the room Brunell would offer to help offset "dead-money" hits from the release of other players. It's a possible scenario if the Jaguars decide to further clear the roster for rebuilding.

"I believe I have my best years ahead of me. I would like for Jacksonville to get them," said Brunell, who has been adamant in his desire to finish his career in Jacksonville.

But Brunell said he would not retire from football if he is traded or released. "No chance. I'm a football player. I have a lot of years left and I'm looking forward to them," he said.

Brunell was officially listed as "questionable" on the Jaguars' injury report. Everyone else on that report was listed as "probable," including running back Fred Taylor, who sprained an ankle against Tennessee. Taylor was expected to participate in today's practice.

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