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Not a huge change

Posted Dec 2, 2011

Koetter on staff changes: 'The only difference is Mike Sheppard is in the receiving room'

The title may be slightly different, but the duties pretty much stay the same.

When it comes to his part in the Jaguars’ coaching staff shuffle, Dirk Koetter said that’s the reality – that while he officially will take on added duties as the team’s quarterbacks coach, his job doesn’t change significantly.

He’s still coaching the offense, and yes, he’s working closely with the quarterbacks – as he said he always has done.

“That part’s overblown,” Koetter said early Thursday afternoon as the Jaguars (3-8) prepared to play the San Diego Chargers (4-7) at EverBank Field in downtown Jacksonville Monday at 8:30 p.m.

“The only difference is now Mike Sheppard is in the receiving room, and I’m in the quarterback room by myself.”

Sheppard, in his first season as the team’s quarterbacks coach, became the wide receivers coach Wednesday. That move came the same day the team fired Johnny Cox, who was in his first season as the wide receivers coach.

Koetter, the offensive coordinator, will now work with quarterbacks on a daily basis, and interim coach Mel Tucker – who replaced Head Coach Jack Del Rio Tuesday – said he expects the move to have a positive influence on rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Koetter said he and Sheppard worked closely with the receivers and quarterbacks, and that there may not be a significant difference in the day-to-day approach.

“There’s not that much difference than there was before,” Koetter said. “I’ll spend a little more time with him. I’m not trying to downplay it. There was a change made, so we’re short a guy. That’s the main thing. We’re short a guy from what we were.”

Koetter said of the move to release Cox, “None of us know if we were in Mel’s shoes what decision we would have made. Obviously, the season hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to go. Mel has been placed in charge of the Jaguars and it’s all of our jobs to support his decisions to the best of our ability.”

Koetter said he didn’t know that one person working with Gabbert an extra hour and a half per day will  have a huge immediate effect on the rookie’s play. Gabbert has completed 128 of 264 passes for 1,371 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions touchdowns this season.

“Over a long time period, me or anyone else who’s around Blaine will have an influence on him – over a long period,” he said. “There are just a lot of other circumstances involved. Who are the receivers? What kind of protection do you have? Who are you playing? Throw in the circumstances of this week: ‘Oh, by the way, the head coach was fired and they sold the team?’ It’s just not simple to say, ‘You’re putting a new guy in there.’

“We’re 11 weeks into a season that’s not going the way we want it to. This has been an uncomfortable week for everybody, players and coaches. We all have a job to do. We’re all professionals and we’re going to do our job, but what the result is going to be, I don’t know.”

Gabbert this past Sunday was pulled by Del Rio with just over seven minutes remaining in favor of backup Luke McCown. Koetter said he saw no change in Gabbert this week.

“Blaine, to me, has been the exact same guy,” Koetter said. “He didn’t have control of that decision. Blaine knows he’s the man here long-term. There are some things Blaine has to get better at for us to improve. He’s just got to keep working.”

Also around the Jaguars Friday:

*As was the case Thursday, the Jaguars had a crisp, up-tempo practice with good energy Friday afternoon. This was the second practice under Tucker, with players saying Thursday’s practice had been the best of the season.

*Koetter said he’s not concerning himself in the short-term about his future. “I’ll have plenty of opportunities, whether it’s college or pro,” Koetter said. “We have five games left, and my focus is on doing what I can do here for these next five weeks. Whatever the future holds, it will work out.”

*Jaguars defensive end Matt Roth participated in the early part of practice, and said he plans to try to play against San Diego Monday. He hadn’t practiced since sustaining a concussion against Cleveland on November 20. “I’ll be able to do some parts of practice, go from there, and hopefully be ready to play Monday,” Roth said, adding that he got kneed in the back of the head against the Browns. “I just have to go through the steps with the trainers, and they’ll let me know if I have the go-ahead.”

*Cornerback Will Middleton missed practice with a knee injury, while linebacker Kevin Bentley (knee), safety Chris Prosinski (hamstring) and cornerback Ashton Youboty (hip) were added to the injury report as being limited.

*Roth officially was listed as limited Friday, as was defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (ankle), who also said he plans to try to play Monday. Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, fullback Greg Jones and running back Maurice Jones-Drew all returned to full participation after working limited for non-injury reasons Thursday.

*Fullback Brock Bolen (calf) and DE John Chick (abdomen) each returned to full participation status after working limited Thursday, as did right tackle Guy Whimper (thigh).

*Defensive end Aaron Kampman worked on a limited basis for a second consecutive day. He has missed the last three games after playing in three games.

*Rookie wide receiver Cecil Shorts, after not catching a pass in the first 10 games of the season, caught one on Sunday for 25 yards, and could get a more extensive role in the passing offense beginning Sunday. “It’s an opportunity for all of us the next five games,” Shorts said. “We just have to take one day at a time, one game at a time and improve each day.” Shorts said of the change at receivers coach, “Johnny was good, but Coach Shep has been around a lot longer, and has more experience. He has more experience, so it was different – a big difference.” The Jaguars on Friday placed wide receiver Brian Robiskie on injured reserve. Shorts worked full Friday despite being listed with a hamstring injury.

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