Garrard: No Worries

Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard went through his first week of offseason practice last week, known as OTAs (organized team activities), where for the first time in his career, he and the rest of the team knew he was firmly entrenched as the club's starting quarterback.

And that's not just this year, but for the foreseeable future. In April, Garrard inked a six-year, $60 million contract with the Jaguars, effectively removing any doubt about Garrard's role.

In five previous seasons, Garrard entered fall training camp each year as the backup to either Mark Brunell or Byron Leftwich. But when Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio named Garrard the starter nine days before the 2007 season began, and the club followed that by releasing Leftwich, Garrard's future was secure.

Garrard said he feels the players have responded differently to his leadership now that it's clear the starting job is his to keep for some time.

"The guys definitely know now that there is no question. We signed our big deal in the offseason and so they know I'm not going anywhere and the team knows that I'm here as the starting quarterback," Garrard said. "They approach me as the same person but knowing that we don't have any doubts on our minds that if we have any questions, we can come to Dave and ask him anything about what's going on, on the field or whatever."

Garrard had a breakout season in 2007, finishing with the NFL's third best passer rating (102.2) behind only Tom Brady (117.2) and Ben Roethlisberger (104.1). When it came to third-down efficiency, no one was better than Garrard's passer rating of 128.8.

The easy-going, relaxed Garrard said he doesn't feel any added pressure after his breakout season and a multi-million dollar contract in hand.

"Not at all. I just think if I do my job, go out and play football, try to have fun each game and each practice because this is what I love, this is what I've been waiting for," he said. "I just think with the whole year last year and even having an injury and having to battle through that because I've never had to do it before, it's really prepared me for the future and the rest of my years in the league.

"I think I showed last year in the season what I can do, just being out there on the field, being able to just play and have fun, not worry about if I make a few bad plays if I'll be snatched off the bench or if I'm worrying about somebody coming back from an injury. I can just play, have fun, do my job, encourage everybody else and just try to be the best leader possible."

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