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Open Locker Room: Talking quarterbacks

Posted Oct 24, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert on Chad Henne in starting role: “It’s a week-to-week thing. It’s my job to go out there and prove … I can play at a high level make it hard on the coaches.”

BAGSHOT, England – Chad Henne tried never to worry about status.

Whatever his spot on the depth chart, Henne said he wanted to approach playing quarterback for the Jaguars the same way. He said that won’t change now.

Henne, who started four of the Jaguars’ first seven games this season, will start again Sunday. This time, it will be the first time he has started for the Jaguars with Blaine Gabbert healthy.

“I felt every time I got an opportunity to go in there, I felt this could be my chance and opportunity to be the starter the rest of the year and try to roll with it,” Henne said as the Jaguars (0-7) prepared to play the San Francisco 49ers (5-2) at Wembley Stadium in London, England, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Henne appears to be getting that opportunity now, with Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley on Wednesday saying Henne will start against San Francisco and “see where that takes us.”

Gabbert practiced full Wednesday and Thursday and will be the backup Sunday. It’s the first time he hasn’t started a game when healthy since the first two games of his 2011 rookie season.

“I haven’t practiced,” said Gabbert, who threw one touchdown and seven interceptions in his three starts this season. “That’s tough when Chad has played well. My job right now is to help any way I can, to be the best teammate and the best leader I can.

“If that’s to go out and give the best look (to the first-team defense) this week, that’s what I’m going to do. Every day I have to get reps and practice at a high level.”

Added Gabbert, “It’s a week-to-week thing. It’s my job to go out there and prove that I can stay healthy and prove I can play at a high level to make it hard on the coaches.”

Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch discussed the decision Thursday.

“We’ve been evaluating throughout our whole process and I thought Chad has really put two good weeks together in a row,” Fisch said. “Last week, I think up until the last four throws of the game I think we were 23 of 29 for 318 yards, so he’s going to play this week and we’re going to see another opportunity for him to get better.”

Fisch said Gabbert has overcome adversity thus far this season with multiple injuries and multiple times in the starting lineup. That, Fisch said, should help Gabbert handle the current situation.

“I think he has the mental makeup,” Fisch said. “Even the last two weeks when he wasn’t dressing for the game he prepared like he was starting. So I do think that he has the mental makeup to do it, but obviously this will be the greatest challenge for him once he feels that he’s healthy enough to go. Physically now it’s a matter of mentally seeing how he will battle.”

Gabbert missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, having missed Weeks Two and Three with a lacerated hand. He also missed the last two preseason games with a thumb injury and spent the last six games last season on injured reserve.

“I’m feeling better,” Gabbert said. “It’s been great getting reps in practice, and getting back into the swing of things…. Everything involves getting healthy. You just have to use the time off as a blessing in disguise to get where you need to be to get to a high level, and that’s trying to get back into training shape.”

Henne said his concern still isn’t as much depth-chart status as figuring how to turn the offense’s recent improvement into the first victory of the season.

“I never really got into that (the quarterback discussion),” Henne said. “It was just be myself and go and do it. We’ve just got to stay consistent with what we’ve been doing the last two weeks.

“Hopefully, it seems we are improving when in there, or I’m improving individually. That’s the biggest thing for me – trying to improve and keep it going.”

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