Garrard gets another starting stint with Jags

Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 2:20 a.m.
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Jacksonville backup quarterback David Garrard will make his fourth career start Sunday when the Jaguars play the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland.

The Associated Press
David Garrard's cell phone hasn't stopped ringing this week. High school coaches, college teammates, longtime friends and even some distant relatives he's never spoken to have called to wish him luck.
Garrard relished every conversation.
He will do the same with this opportunity. Garrard will make his fourth career start Sunday when the Jacksonville Jaguars play at Cleveland (4-7).
Garrard has filled in for starter Byron Leftwich before, including twice last season, but things are different this time. Leftwich could miss the rest of the regular season, leaving Garrard with the task of trying to lead the Jaguars to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
''It's exciting,'' Garrard said Wednesday. ''I feel sad that Byron's not going to make it back during the regular season because he got this team to where it's at right now. But I want to be able to take over and do what I can to keep the ship moving.
''I don't want to be Superman and try to go out and make every play. I just want to go out and make the plays that present themselves. That's all I'm here for right now - to keep the ship going.''
The Jaguars (8-3) have won four in a row to put themselves in position to secure one of the two AFC wild-card spots.
But without Leftwich, that could become difficult.
Leftwich broke a bone in his left ankle Sunday at Arizona and will be on crutches and in a protective boot for at least the next two weeks. His ankle will be re-evaluated then, but the Jaguars are planning to be without their star quarterback for at least four games, maybe longer.
''I know I've been fortunate enough in the past to move up a few weeks on certain injuries, but you're talking about a broken bone,'' Leftwich said. ''It's not like a broken wrist. If it's a broken left wrist, I could still play. It's a broken ankle. It's hard to play on a broken ankle. How can you really rush that? You can't.''
Leftwich said he plans to spend as much time as possible helping Garrard on the practice field and in meeting rooms.
Both quarterbacks, as well as coach Jack Del Rio, insist the offense doesn't change much with Garrard under center. Most would disagree - and with good reason.
Garrard has always been a running quarterback. He directed the triple option in high school, gained more than 1,200 yards on the ground in college and has scrambled plenty as an NFL backup the last four seasons.
He has 44 carries for 288 yards and four touchdowns since becoming a fourth-round draft pick from East Carolina in 2002.
''I like to run, but I don't feel like I should have to run,'' said Garrard, who quickly points out that he still owns several passing records at East Carolina. ''That's just something that I possess. When the opportunity presents itself, then I can do it. I'd rather get the ball to those (receivers). They're much better athletes than I am. I want to get the ball out of my hands and into theirs.''
Garrard has completed 52.6 percent of his passes for 806 yards, with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
He was 12-of-26 for 115 yards against the Cardinals. He ran six times for 61 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown scamper.
''We're going to let him play football,'' Del Rio said. ''We're not working to try to change him in a week into something other than what he is. We want to just embrace what he is as a football player and have him come in and direct the offense, distribute the ball and lead us to points and a win.
''We're not asking David to turn into Michael Vick.''
The Jags do think highly of Garrard, though. When several teams inquired about trading for him during the offseason, the front office asked for a first-round draft pick in return. That scared off everyone, and the Jags signed Garrard to a four-year contract extension that included a $2 million signing bonus.
Now the 6-foot-1, 244-pound backup has a chance to prove he was worth it.
''You're always one play away,'' he said. ''And when the time comes, you've just got to seize it.''
  • DOLPHINS: Linebacker Zach Thomas will miss his second game in a row Sunday because of shoulder and ankle injuries.
    Thomas was hurt Nov. 20 against Cleveland and sat out Sunday's victory at Oakland. The Dolphins host Buffalo on Sunday.
    ''He's not going to play this week,'' coach Nick Saban said Wednesday. ''He probably will be able to play sometime in the near future, but that's going to be determined week to week.''
  • COLTS: Indianapolis released running back Ran Carthon (University of Florida) on Wednesday after he had carries in only three games this season.
    To fill Carthon's roster spot, the Colts activated defensive back Von Hutchins from the practice squad. Hutchins, drafted in 2004 by the Colts out of Mississippi, had 42 tackles and an interception last season.
    Carthon, whose father Maurice is the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator, had 13 carries for 18 yards this season. He scored a touchdown against Jacksonville on a 6-yard run during the Colts' second game this year.
  • TITANS: Rookie receiver Brandon Jones will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his right knee.
    Coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday that Jones tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
  • RAMS: Offensive tackle Alex Barron will undergo surgery for a thumb injury today, possibly leaving the team without both starting tackles for this week's game.
    Barron, the team's first-round pick, was subbing for an injured Orlando Pace when he was hurt early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's overtime victory over the Texans. Pace underwent an MRI exam for a right hip flexor and left hamstring on Monday and was listed as probable although he missed practice on Wednesday.
    Interim coach Joe Vitt said Barron would miss this week's game, but was expected back next week. He said Barron would wear a cast the rest of the season.
    -The Associated Press
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