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Ready to compete


Chad Henne said he chose Jacksonville to have a chance to compete for a starting position, and that he trusts that will be the case.

Mike Mularkey said he needn't worry, but that for now, Henne is the backup.

Henne, a four-year veteran signed by the Jaguars as a free agent Thursday, said although he understands the team is committed to Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback – and that he plans to help Gabbert wherever can – he also said he plans to compete with Gabbert.

"All I wanted to hear is that I have an opportunity to compete," Henne said Thursday afternoon. "They're going to give him a shot, and the benefit of the doubt. I'm just going to come in and push him and compete, and we'll let the coaches decide where we're at and see where we'll go.

"They're definitely going to give Blaine a good shot. We'll let the coaches decide once they start spring camp and training camp."

Mularkey, entering his first season as the Jaguars' head coach, spoke to the media minutes later, and said while the expectation is Henne will compete for a starting position that's true of any player at any position.

"He's coming in as a backup, competing for a starting job," Mularkey said. "Everybody comes in here competing for a starting job, I hope. I hope that's the way it's always going to be. We don't want anybody here who's very comfortable and wants to be in a backup role, and never will.

"We don't want to be around comfortable players or comfortable coaches. Chad knows his role."

Mularkey said he met with Gabbert Thursday regarding the Henne signing.

"We had a conversation, and we're all on the same page," Mularkey said. "We're very happy (Henne) is here. He's going to help Blaine in his development and he's going to help our football team."

Mularkey said the meeting with Gabbert wasn't unusual.

"I do that with everybody we bring in here," Mularkey said. "I want to make sure they're getting the right message and not reading anything into anything else that they're hearing, and that they understand what our thoughts are and how we're pursuing other players – how we're trying to help our football team. I wanted Blaine to know that. I do it with everybody.

"I just wanted him to know that he is our starting quarterback and we brought Chad in to help our football team. I thought the way he handled his questions about it – I thought he was very professional about it."

Mularkey was asked who would start if Henne outplays Gabbert in training camp.

"We'll make that decision," Mularkey said. "Right now, Blaine's our starter. Chad's in here to help develop him and hopefully improve his game and help our football team."

Henne (6-feet-3, 230 pounds), a second-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft by Miami who spent the past four seasons with the Dolphins, visited Jacksonville Wednesday. He had a flight scheduled Wednesday evening to visit Seattle, but said he felt comfortable enough in Jacksonville to cancel the visit.

A big reason for that comfort, he said, was the Jaguars' coaching staff.

Henne said he talked extensively with Mularkey during his pre-draft process in 2008 when Mularkey had recently taken over as Falcons offensive coordinator.

"He's very competitive," Mularkey said of Henne. "He's very good in the huddle. He's very commanding on the field. I felt that way when we interviewed him in Atlanta in '08 prior to the draft when we were looking at all of the quarterbacks. I got a good sense of his competitiveness in the interview process.

"You can see it on film. You can tell he's in complete control of a situation."

Henne also was familiar with Jaguars quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, who recruited Henne out of high school.

"I feel like our coaching staff did a great job with him," Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said of Henne. "I think he just thought this was the right fit."

Henne agreed.

"It comes down to the offense," Henne said, adding that he liked that Mularkey, Olson and Jaguars offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski all had NFL coordinator experience. "I feel familiar with some of the stuff, and it came down to the coaches. All of those things came into play.

"I felt like they spoke the truth. The way they acted in the meetings seems like how they'll act as coaches."

Henne started 31 of 36 games in four seasons for Miami and completed 646 of 1,065 passes for 7,114 yards with 31 touchdowns and 37 interceptions for a 75.7 rating. He also has seven career 300-yard passing games and seven games with two or more touchdown passes.

He started the first four games of this season before sustaining a left shoulder injury in Week 4, and was placed on injured reserve October 6. He said he had preliminary conversations about returning to the Dolphins, but with the team involved in the pursuit of Peyton Manning, he said he needed to move forward.

Henne called his four seasons in Miami "a growing experience," and said while he valued his time there he is ready for a fresh start.

 "It wasn't the prettiest of four years, but l learned a lot about myself as a player and as a person," Henne said. "I had some very good coaches down there and I loved my time down there. It's time for a new start and to get with people I feel comfortable with. This team has the right kind of people. It's just a good situation I feel here."

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