Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Making Himself Clear; Leftwich Says He Can Play, but He Wants Team's Focus 'On Football'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Making Himself Clear; Leftwich Says He Can Play, but He Wants Team's Focus 'On Football'

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

Byron Leftwich, who lost his starting quarterback job to David Garrard earlier this week, said Wednesday he believes he can play on his sore ankle, but he doesn't want to create a distraction for the Jaguars.

"I want to make sure I clear everything up so when we go into the game Sunday, we're not talking about Byron, we're not talking about Dave, we're talking about the Houston Texans," Leftwich said. "I want the focus of this team to be on football."

Leftwich also said he would like to stay in Jacksonville, but he hasn't had any contract talks with the Jaguars. He also brushed off a question about whether he would demand a trade, saying, "You always try to get some crazy story."

But Leftwich did contradict Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, who said the quarterback's ankle won't be better than 85 percent to 90 percent healthy for the rest of the season and might need surgery to clean out.

"A doctor didn't tell me that," said Leftwich, who added that the ankle is between 90 percent and 95 percent healthy. "I've heard different things from the doctors."

According to Leftwich, he talked to Carlos Tandron, the head team physician, and sent the X-rays of his tender ankle to James Andrews, a Birmingham, Ala.-based orthopedic surgeon who has operated on numerous athletes.

"It's not anything major," Leftwich said. "I don't even know why we're talking about it. You're probably walking around with the same thing. Every time you sprain your ankle, stuff like this happens.

"Everybody keeps talking about this ankle surgery. To me, it's irrelevant at this point because I'm feeling good right now."

Later in the interview, however, Leftwich didn't rule out surgery.

"It all depends on how my ankle responds [when he practices]," Leftwich said. "You never want to say never.

"It's not like it's a broken leg. It's not like it's a bone floating around. I've just got some scar tissue in there. There's probably a lot of people who've got scar tissue. That's just how it is."

Although he said he's not at 100 percent, Leftwich believes he wouldn't

have a problem playing on the ankle.

"I feel as though I could play right now," he said. "I really do feel that way. It's not my decision."

Leftwich also doesn't seem to believe it's realistic that he should be 100 percent to play.

"I don't know in my whole life if I'd ever be 100 percent again," he said. "That's just anybody who played this game. Nobody in this locker room is 100 percent."

On the injury report, the Jaguars listed Leftwich as probable, and the team said he practiced Wednesday, but he didn't take snaps during team drills in the media- viewing period.

"It's frustrating any time you don't play," Leftwich said when asked how he was handling the situation. "But it's not about me. …

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