Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gabbert's Time to Be Starter Is Running Out

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gabbert's Time to Be Starter Is Running Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

There comes a point in the career of all NFL quarterbacks when they reveal to the league exactly where they're going to fall in the position's pecking order.

Some flash right away as long-term starters, others are busts or nothing more than insurance policies. Many need a few years in a system before teams can pinpoint their rightful place in the game. For Blaine Gabbert, that time is quickly approaching.

The Jaguars' once- promising 2011 first-round draft pick can't keep on being a wait-and-see quarterback. Otherwise, he will be another in a long line of quarterbacks marked by unfulfilled potential, with a destination of career backup.

It's clear from how the Jaguars' new regime of coach Gus Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell have approached this quarterback "competition" with Chad Henne that their preference is for Gabbert to win the job. They'll never say that publicly, of course, but it's evident from this close race that the younger, more physically gifted quarterback owns the tiebreaker.

As the greater unknown, the 23-year-old Gabbert is still being given the benefit of doubt. That's why Bradley again named him the starter for Saturday night's second preseason game against the New York Jets.

It's certainly not because Gabbert has seized the starting job. Both he and Henne have run the gamut in training camp from mediocre, to average, to making an occasional highlight reel. But since Henne is five years older, and had 31 career starts with the Miami Dolphins before even coming to Jacksonville, the Jaguars are inclined to give Gabbert as many chances within reason to prove he's the long-term answer.

When asked about the quarterback selection process, Bradley twice mentioned that Gabbert had only 17 snaps last week against Miami and missed six games last year with an injury. Translation: the Jaguars want to see Gabbert more under fire.

"We just said we need to get more looks at him," said Bradley. …

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