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Moving ahead


Aaron Kampman said it's time to move forward.

Not that the past 24 hours have been easy, and not that Kampman – the Jaguars' veteran defensive end – or any other Jaguars veteran took the team releasing starting quarterback David Garrard lightly when the team made the move Tuesday.

But reality is reality and reality is this:

*The NFL is professional football.

*The regular-season opener is four days away.

That made Wednesday a day for lauding and remembering Garrard, and acknowledging his value to the organization the past nine seasons, but it was also a day for focusing on the regular-season opener against the Tennessee Titans Sunday afternoon at EverBank Field.

"Our expectations don't change," Kampman said Wednesday following the Jaguars' first practice in preparation for Sunday. "Our game against Tennessee has not been pushed back. We are planning on putting our best foot forward Sunday at 1 o'clock."

The Jaguars held a players-only meeting Wednesday morning, a meeting in which Jaguars Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis said players discussed the release being "the nature" of the NFL.

"It is what it is," Lewis said. "It's the nature of the business. We've got to keep rolling. Nothing is going to change. If you start getting outside yourself, that's when bad things happen. We just have to do what we do and do it well."

Of the meeting, Kampman said, "We were able to speak about everything and talk about the things that happened."

Garrard had been the Jaguars' starter four seasons, and throughout the off-season – and despite Garrard struggling at times in the preseason – the Jaguars maintained the stance that he was the starter. Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said Tuesday the team waited until the 11thhour to release Garrard because the team was waiting for Garrard to play to the level he had played in previous seasons.

Del Rio, who called a difficult practice for Garrard Monday the final straw in the decision, said the timing of the release could have been handled differently.

"I don't like the idea that the timing went down the way it did, but it did," Del Rio said. "Ultimately, as an organization we have to make decisions even when they're not comfortable and make the best decisions for the football team. I do believe we've done that.

"Sometimes, it doesn't fall the way you want it to in terms of timelines and things you have commitments to. From that standpoint, I would prefer it have gone down differently, but you deal with things as you have to. We took that one to the last possible minute because it was something we continued to hold out hope for."

Lewis said while the events of this week are "really going to test the maturity of our team," he added, "We're ready to take this challenge right in the face."

"It was a decision by Jack, the general manager (Gene Smith) and the organization that they felt they needed to make in order for us to move forward and continue our quest to win a championship," Lewis said. "Whatever coach says, that's what goes."

Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, called Garrard's release, "tough," and said the team will play well with quarterback Luke McCown as the starter.

"I've been with Dave since the first day I got here," Jones-Drew said. "He's the quarterback I came in this league with. It's very tough, but it's business. It was a business decision made from upstairs. We didn't even know. All we can do is react and play with who they put with us, which is Luke.

"The expectations haven't changed at all. We're just going to play our game and execute at a high level."

Of the decision to release Garrard, "My agreeing with it or not has nothing to do with anything. Obviously, you know how I felt about him. The front office did what it felt was right for the team and I'm with Luke now."

Players Wednesday also were pointed in their feeling and appreciation of Garrard.

 "I want to make sure we highlight the fact that Dave means and has meant a tremendous amount to this organization," Kampman said. "He's won a lot of football games for this organization. He's a class person. He was great in the locker room. He'll do well wherever he goes next – if that's his choice."

Kampman called Garrard's a release "obviously a big move, but one that doesn't change our expectations."

"It doesn't change our job responsibilities," Kampman said. "Tennessee's not going to give us an extra day to deal with all of the questions you all have for us regarding this."

Uche Nwaneri, a fifth-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, called Garrard's release, "shocking."

 "Obviously, guys have been here with Dave and they've been playing with him," Nwaneri said. "They've gone to battle with him a lot, the ups and the downs. You hate to see somebody like that go, but you also have to realize the business you're in.

"They're going to what they have to do as an organization. That goes for anybody on the team."

Nwaneri said while Garrard's release was difficult, "you can't let your emotions control your thought process in a situation like this."

"We love Dave," he said. "He's done a lot for the organization. He's been a warrior out there but like I said, the organization is going to do what they think is best for the team."

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