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Inside the Jaguars: Faith in Henne

Posted Sep 9, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars HC Gus Bradley on QB Chad Henne: “He’s a guy we felt strongly about through the whole process.”

JACKSONVILLE – Chad Henne will start at quarterback for the Jaguars Sunday.

And Gus Bradley is fine with that.

Henne, who competed for the starting job throughout the offseason, moved back into the starting lineup for at least a week Monday, with Bradley – the team’s first-year head coach – announcing that Blaine Gabbert will be out at least that long with a laceration to his throwing hand.

Gabbert’s injury – sustained late in a loss to Kansas City Sunday – required 15 stitches, and Bradley said the team ruled Gabbert out to reduce the risk of further infection in practice or games.

Henne competed with Gabbert for the starting position through the second preseason game, and Bradley said Henne has worked with the offense enough to be ready Sunday.

“We have a guy who is seasoned and who has played a lot of football for us,” Bradley said Monday, a day after the Jaguars’ 28-2 loss to the Chiefs in the 2013 regular-season opener at EverBank Field.

Henne and Gabbert each took nearly the same amount of practice and game repetitions with the first team through the second week of the preseason, after which Gabbert was named the starter. Because Gabbert missed the final two games of the preseason with a thumb injury, Henne worked with the starters during those two weeks.

“We have a lot of faith in Chad,” Bradley said. “He’s a guy we felt strongly about through the whole process. Hopefully, we won’t miss a beat.”

Bradley was asked what would happen to the quarterback situation if Henne plays well and the Jaguars beat Oakland.

“That would be a good thing,” he said, laughing and adding, “We don’t even think like that. We want to put Chad in a position to win.”

Gabbert, a game-time decision on Sunday because of the thumb injury, completed 16 of 35 passes for 121 yards and two interceptions with no touchdowns against the Chiefs, being sacked six times and pressured on 11 plays.

“One thing that impressed us about Blaine is he stood in there,” Bradley said. “He showed great toughness in the pocket. To have that kind of heat on you through the day, that’s tough on a quarterback. That part of it I was really pleased with.”

Bradley said it was possible Gabbert had some rustiness because of the lack of practice time before the opener.

“But I thought he handled it pretty well,” Bradley said.

Bradley said the major concern regarding Gabbert was keeping the lacerated area clean to reduce the chance of infection. He will be reevaluated after the Raiders game, Bradley said.

“We’re going to handle that right,” Bradley said, adding that Gabbert could return for the Seattle game September 22 or for a home game against Indianapolis September 29.

“It was pretty severe,” Bradley added. “They’re worried that some of the skin isn’t there. It ripped off part of the skin. Some of the areas are open even though they were stitched. The biggest thing is keeping it clean. We’ll make sure that’s addressed.”

Bradley, who said he expects Gabbert will travel with the team to Oakland, said his confidence in Gabbert remains high.

“The guy is a competitor,” Bradley said. “I have no problem standing up for Blaine Gabbert and what he brings to our team.”

Also around the Jaguars:

*Cornerback Dwayne Gratz will miss at least three games with what Bradley said could be a high-ankle sprain. Will Blackmon, acquired off waivers before the preseason finale, likely will start in his place, with rookie Demetrius McCray an option. “We feel strongly about Will,” Bradley said. “We have confidence in those guys.”

*Guard Will Rackley sustained a lateral knee sprain against Kansas City, Bradley said, adding that it was the same knee Rackley injured in training camp. Bradley said Rackley hasn’t been ruled out for Wednesday’s practice.

*Tight end Marcedes Lewis has not been ruled out for Sunday’s game in Oakland, Bradley said.

*Wide receiver Justin Blackmon, serving a four-game suspension to start the season, will travel to Oakland, but must leave the team before the game. Bradley said the plan is for Blackmon to rejoin the team as it prepares to play Seattle the following week. The Jaguars are planning to spend the week before the Seattle game near Oakland, and then fly to Seattle the day before the game.

*Bradley said Monday he thought rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien overall played well in the opener, and that the moment of his first regular-season game wasn’t too big for him. He said wide receiver Ace Sanders wasn’t as consistent as was necessary.

*Bradley said his biggest disappointment Sunday was that the moment appeared too big for some of the younger players. “That’s my responsibility, to calm that world down for them,” he said. “That’s my responsibility. We all can learn and grow from it.”

*Running back Justin Forsett played in his 76th consecutive game Sunday, the longest consecutive games played streak among active running backs. “I’m trying to catch Brett Favre,” said Forsett, who missed the preseason with a toe injury after signing as an unrestricted free agent during the offseason.

*Forsett on the 178 total yards by the Jaguars Sunday: “The plays were there. We just didn’t execute. When you’re playing a team like that, you have to execute and we didn’t do it.”

*Forsett rushed once for seven yards, and also caught four passes for 22 yards. “He was a bright spot for us,” Bradley said.

*Guard Uche Nwaneri on the approach in the wake of a season-opening loss: “It’s the first game of the season. It’s not a situation where guys are walking around with their heads down or anything like that. We’ know we’re a much better team than we showed. We can’t let that effect how we feel about ourselves as a team.”

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