NFL

Jags will make game-day decision on QB Gabbert for opener

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The Canadian Press
9/6/2013 2:47:43 PM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After watching Blaine Gabbert take dozens of snaps and throw hundreds of passes this week, the Jacksonville Jaguars still aren't ready to declare him healthy enough for the season opener.

Coach Gus Bradley listed Gabbert as questionable for Sunday's game against Kansas City, adding that the former first-round draft pick probably will be a game-day decision.

"We're encouraged with what we saw from Blaine Gabbert," Bradley said Friday. "I thought he took steps in the right direction, but it is too early. It may go all the way up until pregame, until we can get a chance to see him and how he does in that."

Gabbert is recovering from a hairline fracture in his right thumb. He missed the final two preseason games because of the injury and has been dealing with pain and a weakened grip.

But he's been able to throw with little or no noticeable issues this week, a positive sign he will be able to start against the Chiefs.

"He not a hundred per cent and may have some soreness in his hand, but like I mentioned before, it can't get any worse, so he will just have to deal with that little bit of pain," Bradley said.

Barring any setbacks, Gabbert expects to play.

"I getting more and more comfortable throwing the ball and we're just seeing how it feels," he said. "It's kind of a finicky deal, so hopefully it's A-OK tomorrow morning. These next 48 hours are big. Give it a little time to rest, and come game time, it should be feeling pretty good."

If Gabbert can't start, the Jaguars will go with backup Chad Henne against the Chiefs.

Gabbert and Henne have split repetitions in practice, although Gabbert seems to have gotten more later in the week.

Gabbert completed 58 per cent of his passes for 1,662 yards, with nine touchdowns and six interceptions last season. He missed the final six games because of a forearm injury.

This is a make-or-break season for the former Missouri standout.

The Jaguars are giving him every opportunity to prove he can be a franchise quarterback. Gabbert had plenty of excuses his first two seasons, but has running back Maurice Jones-Drew healthy, an upgraded offence line and more experience at receiver.

Gabbert won't have receiver Justin Blackmon, who is suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, or tight end Marcedes Lewis, who was ruled out because of a calf injury.

For Gabbert, though, the biggest thing is being patient with his own injury.

"It's just one of those deals," he said. "I don't know. I really can't tell my bone to grow any faster than it is right now, so we'll see how it is tomorrow."

Blaine Gabbert  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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