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First off the Field: Thursday, 9/05

Posted Sep 5, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars HC Gus Bradley updates QB Blaine Gabbert: “He continues to progress positively for us, so that’s encouraging.”

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars are still waiting and still seeing.

When it comes to Blaine Gabbert’s injured right thumb, Head Coach Gus Bradley said the team is still evaluating, too, and that it remains the case that a decision on the Jaguars’ starting quarterback may not come until the weekend.

Gabbert, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, took more repetitions Thursday, but remained limited as the team prepared for Sunday’s regular-season opener.

“He continues to progress positively for us, so that’s encouraging,” Bradley said as the Jaguars prepared to play the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2013 regular-season opener at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

Bradley called Gabbert’s progression a positive, and said backup Chad Henne also took extensive repetitions Thursday, with third-team quarterback Ricky Stanzi also getting repetitions.

Also on Thursday, tight end Marcedes Lewis did not practice after being limited with a calf injury Wednesday.

“We’ll continue to evaluate him and see where he’s at,” Bradley said of Lewis.

Wide receiver Stephen Burton returned and practiced full after having issues with the 92-degree heat on Wednesday, with guard Will Rackley (ankle), running back Justin Forsett (toe), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (skin condition) listed as limited for a second consecutive day.

Gabbert, the starter in the team’s first two preseason games, sustained a thumb injury late in the second preseason game. He was named the starter two days after that game, and returned to practice early this week. He worked on a limited basis Wednesday, taking limited repetitions.

Bradley said Gabbert not only got more repetitions Thursday, he also worked with a pass rush around him Thursday on third-down repetitions.

“I thought he stood in there pretty good,” Bradley said. “We just have to see. Each day, we evaluate how his thumb feels and the confidence he has in it, the strength that he has in it.”

Bradley said Wednesday the decision on whether Gabbert could play against the Chiefs could come Sunday, and he said Thursday that a primary issue remains the ability to make the throws the team needs him to make.

“I thought he did better today,” Bradley said Thursday.

Bradley said Thursday if Gabbert can’t make the throws the team needs “the decision would be made.”

“Right now, we’re seeing him make some of the throws, and we’re seeing him do a lot of the things we’re asking him to do,” Bradley said. “We’ll go through (practice) one more time tomorrow and finalize it.”

Bradley said it’s his understanding from speaking to trainers and doctors that Gabbert will not unreasonably risk further injury to his thumb by playing.

“He couldn’t do any more damage to it, so it’s more of a pain-tolerance feel,” Bradley said. “If he throws … and he hits a helmet and he breaks it that could have happened if he didn’t have the injury, is my understanding with it, so it’s more of a pain tolerance.”

Also around the Jaguars:

*Bradley said Thursday the team wants to be smart with Lewis, and not put him in a situation to continually reinjure his calf. He missed the last three preseason games with a calf injury before the area tightened on him on Thursday. “We don’t want to put him in there and have it, ‘Another three weeks, another three weeks,’’’ Bradley said.  . . .

*Bradley said the team has worked extra this week with the reserve tight ends, a group that includes Allen Reisner, Clay Harbor and D.J. Williams, the latter two of whom were claimed off waivers on Sunday from Philadelphia and Green Bay, respectively. . . .

*Bradley said he has been pleased in preseason with the pass rush from the interior of the defense, with tackles Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller enabling the Jaguars to get push from that area. Bradley said that element will help the pass from the edge, and said end Jeremy Mincey also should help the interior pass rush when he moves inside in passing situations. “An athletic guy on the inside on third down is pretty good,” Bradley said. . . .

*Defensive coordinator Bob Babich said of the pass rush Thursday, “The inside guys have been fantastic. . . . We believe in rush and cover. That’s something we think is very important and we talk to our guys about that all the time and they work hand in hand. We’ve been pleased; we’re always looking to get better as a unit whatever it may be so we’re never going to be satisfied, but there has been some good things with the pass rush.” . . .

*Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III said he has high confidence in wide receivers Ace Sanders and Mike Brown, each of whom will play a key role replacing Justin Blackmon, the second-year veteran wide receiver who is suspended for the first four games. “When you’ve been around guys and you sweat and grind with them, and you see them perform, it builds confidence,” Shorts III said. “I’ve seen them work and I’ve seen them produce.” . . .

*Shorts talked late in the preseason about knocking off rust after missing the first two preseason games with a calf strain. He said that talk is in the past. “I’m back,” he said. “I’m focused on getting better this week, preparing and watching film. I’m just excited.”

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