It was a dress rehearsal for Saturday's preseason opener in Minnesota, but David Garrard's 50-yard pass to Jimmy Smith produced a regular-season-like cheer from 1,349 fans who showed up at Alltel Stadium this morning.
"Jimmy did well; caught a bomb, got the crowd jacked," coach Jack Del Rio said of the play, the feature attraction in a 17-13, "mock game" victory by Garrard's and Mark Brunell's teal squad. Third quarterback Quinn Gray led the white team.
"It was a great learning experience for players and coaches," Del Rio said of the mock game, which included pregame drills, the national anthem, sideline play-calling and communications between coaches in the press box and those on the field.
"You don't want your first run at that coming in Minnesota," Del Rio said.
Of course, today's mock game was not "live." Players were dressed in shorts, practice jerseys and helmets. There were no other pads.
OK, so the Jaguars learned how to run out of the tunnel and onto the field, and how to line up for the national anthem. But those weren't the only functions of today's exercise. This mock game also included a real competition at quarterback.
Yes, it's happening. Brunell and Garrard are battling for the job. Garrard announced that fact in Friday night's intrasquad scrimmage, when he clearly outplayed Brunell. That capped a week in which Brunell appeared to be much sharper in practice than Garrard.
This morning, they each had their moments. Brunell led the Jaguars to a 70-yard, 14-play touchdown drive, then Garrard followed that with his 50-yarder to Smith, which was the big play in Garrard's touchdown drive. It also featured a couple of nifty shots to wide receiver J.J. Stokes.
Del Rio said he will give Garrard a starting assignment in at least one preseason game. "I doubt it'll be in the first game, but we want to get him a start with the first offense against the first defense," Del Rio said.
That start could come in the second preseason game, at Alltel Stadium against the Miami Dolphins.
Meanwhile, running back Fred Taylor is not likely to play in Minnesota. Del Rio said he'll probably prescribe more rest for Taylor's bruised left knee, rather than risk further injury on the Metrodome's hard artificial turf. "He's got a long season ahead of him," Del Rio said.
Rookie LaBrandon Toefield has made the most of Taylor's absence. Toefield was impressive Friday night and drew praise from Del Rio today. "Toefield is making a push to show he's that guy," the coach said of Toefield's quest to be the Jaguars' number two running back.
The Jaguars will not practice on Sunday. The day off punctuates the first phase of training camp, and Del Rio offered this overview:
"It's gone according to plan. It's been very productive. We've had the majority of our team come in here in shape and get some excellent work in."
In other notes from today's mock game:
• Cornerback Kiwaukee Thomas capped a strong first-week showing with a two-play effort that ended the first half today. His interception of a Gray pass was nullified by a penalty, then Thomas responded by knocking away a potential touchdown pass.
• Pete Liane, an optometrist from Ortega, successfully booted a field goal at halftime in the "Dream Kick" charity promotion. Liane made a donation to the United Way, then won a five-person kick-off to earn the halftime opportunity. Liane won a football autographed by Wayne Weaver.