A No. 2, Gabbert will get first-team time

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In Minnesota, Christian Ponder's talked of his respect for Donovan McNabb but his desire to start.

Jake Locker's echoed the same sentiment with regard to Matt Hasselbeck in Tennessee.

Blaine Gabbert's on a different road. He’s a competitor, he wants opportunity, but he identified himself more than once on Tuesday after the Jaguars' morning practice as a No. 2 quarterback.

“Being a backup quarterback in the NFL is the easiest job in the world because everybody thinks you are better than the starter,” he said. “That couldn’t be more wrong. That changes real quick when you start playing in the football field.”

He said he wants to compete with David Garrard and Luke McCown and have fun doing it.

I’m not sure what the exact right balance is, what the right things to say are for a guy in Gabbert’s situation.

But after a couple days with the Jaguars and conversations with general manager Gene Smith, coach Jack Del Rio, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, Garrard and Gabbert, I can say it’s a very healthy situation right now and I believe they have an effective plan.

Koetter said that plan includes getting Gabbert some work in preseason games with the Jaguars' first-string offense, and hopefully against a first-string defense.

It’s important for the coaches to be able to correctly evaluate where Gabbert is.

“Two nights ago we go two-minute offense, he’s with the twos, we’ve got a corner route,” Koetter said. “The guys busts the coverage, we’re wide open, the crowd goes wild, Blaine’s the greatest player ever. He had the exact same route last night against the exact same coverage except guess what? The DB was all over him. He threw it away.

“I’m trying to tell him every time, ‘OK, when we get to real football, this won’t be this wide open.'”

A couple more things worth knowing from Gabbert:

  • He said the press gives Garrard too hard a time and that he is “a hell of a quarterback.” How does he know? "That’s just the buzz in the locker room,” he said.

  • The transition from a shotgun-heavy offense at Missouri to the Jaguars' offense is not as big a deal as it can be made out to be, he said. He estimated the Jags are running 50 or even 60 percent shotgun. (They’ve certainly worked more pass than run and are willing to hand off out of shotgun.) Gabbert said he thinks taking a snap from under center is actually easier than taking one in the shotgun.

  • He thinks his hair might survive any sort of rookie orientation. “I still have the flow, a lot of guys on the team do,” he said. "Hopefully that will stay.”