Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Still Sensing a Breakthrough; QB Garrard: 'This Team Is Ready to Start the Season'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Still Sensing a Breakthrough; QB Garrard: 'This Team Is Ready to Start the Season'

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

Forget David Garrard's ill-timed interception, the nine penalties, the struggles in the red zone and the running game and the failure of the first-string defensive line to get any sacks.

Even though the starters trailed 13-9 late in the third quarter in Tampa Saturday night before the backups pulled out a 19-13 victory, coach Jack Del Rio was upbeat after the game.

So was Garrard. "This offense is definitely ready to start the season," he said. "This team is ready to start the season."

The regular season starts in 13 days against the Denver Broncos. There's one more preseason game, Thursday night at EverBank Field against Atlanta.

And Del Rio is pleased about the progress the Jaguars have made.

"I'm seeing positive signs," he said. "I thought our tackling was a little better. We will continue to work on it. I am convinced that this football team has, at every turn, [when] demands have been placed on them, [they] have responded and worked. They are embracing the core team values that we have laid out."

Del Rio added, "They are giving it up for each other. They are challenging each other. They are working hard. They are committed to excellence. I'm proud of the way we are approaching things. I know as a football team, we are getting better."

The Jaguars appear to have good chemistry and now the question is whether they'll be ready for a fast start. After the opener, they play at San Diego and home against Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

Del Rio will move a step closer to starting the season today when he indicated he will name his 22 starters. He did add that even though Brad Meester didn't play much against the Bucs, he will be the starting center.

The Jaguars wanted to give backup center Uche Nwaneri, who will start at guard, work at center while Vince Manuwai and Justin Smiley received a longer look at the guard positions.

They are locked in a battle for the second guard spot with Kynan Forney, who didn't play.

Deciding the winner of that battle could be one of Del Rio's toughest decisions.

Manuwai lost the starting position earlier in camp when he had back issues, but he's healthy now and back in the mix. …

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