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Mark Brunell watched his teammates practice today, as Rob Johnson took over as the Jaguars' quarterback for the forseeable future.

Brunell, who was on crutches but was able to walk on the practice fields, said, "I feel pretty good. There's no swelling and no pain. I'm very optimistic." Brunell, who said that he thinks his surgery will take place either Thursday or Friday, said his injury was "not even close" to the one he had in 1991 at the University of Washington when he was back on the field in five months. "I believe God will heal my knee. That's where my faith is now."

Having Brunell around "will be a great source of help to Rob and (new backup) Todd Philcox," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "He wants to be in the meetings and out on the field and not just sit inside or at home. Everyone enjoys having Mark around."

Johnson took over starting duties for the team, and Coughlin said, "He will have to grow and develop and work his way through situations. But it's not just Rob Johnson. Everyone else has to do their jobs. There will be no drastic revisions to the gameplans. Rob's strengths are his arm, his vision and his competitiveness, and he's a good decision-maker. The challenge will be his ability to handle situations, even though they won't all be good."

Johnson took the starting assignment in stride. "It's a great opportunity for me, but it's unfortunate for Mark. Hopefully the team will respond," he said. "I don't have to go out and carry this team like Mark did in 1995. I just have to play solid and put us in a position to win. There'll be growing pains. I don't have the experience to go in there and fill Mark's big shoes. But I'm motivated by fear of failure. I'm ready to play."

Rob Johnson has played in a total of eight games in the NFL - one in the regular season and seven in the preseason.


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