Break beneficial for Gabbert

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It has been more than two months since Blaine Gabbert has taken a snap in an NFL game, but the Jaguars' third-year quarterback believes he's a better player because of that.

Gabbert says the time on the sideline -- at first because of a hamstring injury but then because coach Gus Bradley opted to stay with Chad Henne -- has helped him understand the consistency it takes to be an NFL quarterback.

It also helped him mature, too.

"I think adversity reveals your character and the one thing I tried not to do is change," Gabbert said. “I tried to be the first guy here and the last guy to leave. My mindset never wavered one bit, whether I was a starter or a backup.

"That's the biggest thing that I came out this year learning was that everything didn't go my way this year but I still busted my tail and gave it my all."

Gabbert was in charge of running the scout team offense, a job which he took seriously. Bradley noticed that Gabbert's leadership and performance improved as the season progressed and he looked like a different quarterback than the one who threw seven interceptions and one touchdown in three games early this season.

"The group has really gravitated towards him," Bradley said. "It's different when you're on the service team and you're throwing the ball because the rush gets to you in a hurry, you've got to stay in the pocket, make the throws. I think poise there, too, has been good for him."

Gabbert has struggled with poise and consistency in his three seasons. He has not developed into the franchise quarterback the team hoped he would be after it traded up to select him with the No. 10 overall pick in 2011. He has thrown for 4,357 yards and 22 touchdowns with 24 interceptions in 28 games (27 starts).

He has battled injuries throughout his career, too. He missed the final six games of the 2012 season with a right forearm injury and had four injuries this season: a sprained ankle in training camp, a fractured right thumb in the preseason, a cut on the back of his hand that kept him out of Week 2 and 3, and a right hamstring injury in Week 5.

He never got on the field after that and the common thought was that the Jaguars would cut him this offseason. However, general manager David Caldwell said Tuesday that Gabbert would be back in 2014. Caldwell hedged a bit, though, saying that if the team re-signs Chad Henne and drafts a quarterback with an early pick it would be hard to keep Gabbert on the roster.

Gabbert says he wants to be back and to compete for what he called "my job." He may be in a better position to do that than at any time in his career because of how much he has improved since mid-October, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said.

"I think he's progressed in terms of his football intelligence, and his maturity, and also I think he has a better understanding of what we're doing on offense," Fisch said. "So probably I would guess that if he goes out there now he would play faster. So many things around him wouldn't be going on [and] he'd have a better feel or understanding of what everybody is doing.

"I think he's been able to sit back and learn and kind of play the role of what a lot of times you'd like your rookie quarterback to do. If you draft a quarterback you'd like him to be able to sit back and learn. I think that's what Blaine has been able to do this season."