Jags injured QB Blaine Gabbert (hand) could be game-time decision Sunday
While Gabbert continues to make progress on his recovery from the thumb injury but Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said a decision on his quarterback decision "very easily could" last until right before the Sunday’s season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"We've got some decisions to make," Bradley said after Wednesday’s practice. "I know he feels better every day, so I think we're going to have to get as much time as we can to evaluate this."
Returning to practice for the first time since the mid-August thumb injury, Gabbert faced an up-and-down battle on the field Wednesday. Gabbert was still limited during practice though he did some reps during team drills.
"At times he looked good and at times he looked like he had an injury," Bradley noted. "I thought I saw some glimpses at the end where he was starting to get into a little bit more of a rhythm.”
Gabbert suffered a hairline fracture in his right thumb during the team's second preseason game on Aug. 17 at New York. He sat out the Jets’ final two preseason games but team doctors still did not rule out Gabbert for some Week 1 action against the Chiefs. It remains to be seen whether the Jaguars could let Gabbert play against the Chiefs even if he isn’t up to 100 percent yet.
"He's going to feel it. “I don't' know the pain's going to be gone, you know. I don't know if that's going to happen. It may be, but I imagine with something like that he's going to have a little bit of pain in there,” Bradley said. “So can he be effective? Is it a distraction for him? Can he tolerate it? Those are all things we've just got to find out with him and how he's feeling.”
It’s not like Gabbert hasn’t played through pain before. He survived playing through a nagging toe injury as a rookie in 2011, as well as a torn labrum in his left non-throwing shoulder last season. But none of those injuries affected Gabbert’s grip or throwing ability. So, the team could be a little more concerned with Gabbert’s thumb injury. He only started gripping a football and making throws last week. It remains a big question how Gabbert’s recovering hand will hold out under real game circumstances.
"In practice you can't worry about it because then you're thinking about something that's really not relevant when you're going through a play, a progression and a read,” Gabbert said. “I imagine on game day it won't even be a thought in my mind. That's something that's taking your mind away from the goal at hand, which is executing the plays, scoring points and winning a football game.”
But if Gabbert can’t play, then backup Chad Henne will start, after he also started the final six games of last season. That would make recently acquired Ricky Stanzi, through waivers from the Chiefs last week, Jaguars’ backup quarterback for the season opener.
"Guys have to step up. We’ll got out there and watch him and based on how he’s throwing -- we’re not going to put the team in jeopardy just to say he’s starting,” Bradley said. “Both of them are getting quite a few reps. Stanzi’s getting some reps so we’re preparing for all options."