Inevitable QB Injury

One thing is almost guaranteed to happen in a Jaguars season: The starting quarterback will get injured.

They haven't had a starting quarterback start all 16 games since Mark Brunell did it in 2000.

David Garrard was never injured in his first five years with the team and started 17 games as a backup the last three years without any injury problems.

Yet when he was handed the starting job this year, he didn't survive the sixth game.

When he was sidelined with an ankle injury Monday night in a 29-7 loss to Indianapolis, it was the seventh consecutive year the Jaguars have had their quarterback suffer a serious injury and the fifth consecutive year the starter has missed playing time.

Garrard's injury means that Quinn Gray will make his first start Sunday in Tampa Bay.

Garrard had an MRI Tuesday and coach Jack Del Rio will provide an update Wednesday on how long he'll be sidelined. If he suffered a high ankle sprain, he could be out for several weeks.

"He's got a pretty good sprain on it," Del Rio said after the game.

Although X-rays showed it wasn't broken, a high ankle sprain can take longer to heal than a break.

The Jaguars also are likely to sign a veteran quarterback Wednesday.

But Gray will have to carry the team in Garrard's absence because a new quarterback would need time to learn the offense.

Quinn Gray had a rough time in relief of David Garrard. Gray completed only nine of 24 passes for 56 yards, had two interceptions and was sacked for a safety when he was hit on his blindside by Dwight Freeney and had an 11.1 quarterback rating.

But Gray has been working with the scout team in practice and was thrust in with no warning. Now he'll get a week of practice with the first team.

"I've been playing Peyton Manning and all these other guys (on the scout team)," Gray said, "This week, I'll be taking reps with the (first string) offense."

Gray will have to show he can lead the team.

"It's an opportunity to go out and show your coach you can lead the team," he said. "It is making believers out of dreamers. All you can do is lead by example. You can't talk your way into a leadership role."

Gray first joined the team in training camp in 2002, was cut and then re-signed in 2003. He has been with the team since, but played in just two games and had thrown just 17 passes the last four years.

The Jaguars will be hoping that Gray can do what Garrard did in 2005 when he led them to a 4-1 mark in five starts as they finished 12-4 although Del Rio went back to Byron Leftwich in the 28-3 playoff loss to New England.

By contrast, when Garrard started the last 10 games last year, he started out 5-2, but then lost the last three games and the Jaguars missed the playoffs.

They also could activate rookie Lester Ricard, who's on the practice squad.

Ricard is a big-armed, smart youngster, but he doesn't figure to become a reliable NFL backup for at least another year.

Now the team is in Gray's hands.


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