JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Blaine Gabbert had been among the Jacksonville Jaguars looking forward to a day off from practice Tuesday. He’ll still have it, although whether he’ll be able to fully enjoy it is another matter.
Gabbert, the third-year quarterback who has been working mainly with the first-string unit since training camp began last week, sprained his right ankle toward the end of Monday’s two-and-a-half-hour session. Coach Gus Bradley said the injury took place right in front of him and occurred when right guard Uche Nwaneri got pushed backward while Gabbert was stepping up in the pocket during an 11-on-11 drill.
Gabbert spiked his helmet in frustration while limping to a shaded area of the practice field before getting a ride on a cart, but was seen later walking around the Jaguars’ facilities without a protective boot. Whether he’ll be ready to go Wednesday when the team practices in full pads for the first time is up in the air.
“If your quarterback’s down, you’re a little worried about that,” Nwaneri said. “Hopefully everything’s good with him. I’ve just got to try to never let it happen.”
Bradley described the injury as “a freak deal” in the midst of the competition between Gabbert and Chad Henne for the starting job. Rookie free agent Matt Scott took a few snaps after Gabbert went down, but all indications are it will be a two-man race.
“Our mentality is we’ve got to move on. Next man up,” Bradley said. “Obviously we care about Blaine, and we want him to get back. And hopefully it’s nothing serious.”
During one stretch Monday, Gabbert and Henne combined for nine consecutive incompletions. But both players bounced back and looked noticeably sharper as practice went on. And Gabbert had nothing close to a repeat of the ill-advised throw he made Friday that defensive back Mike Harris intercepted and returned for what would have been a touchdown or the three fumbled snaps he had Saturday.
Gabbert was unofficially 11 of 15 in what Bradley called his second good day in a row. He often had time to throw behind a group that included first-round draft pick Luke Joeckel, while Henne was forced to scramble on back-to-back plays when the pocket collapsed.
“I think we’ve been providing a good pocket,” Nwaneri said. “I think we’re starting to get that cohesiveness. There’s still work to do, but giving the quarterback time and seeing Blaine make some plays and throws down the field, that’s good stuff.”
Henne might have created most of his attention when he lined up as a wideout on at least three plays. On all of those occasions, rookie Denard Robinson took the direct snap from center. The only pass thrown by the former Michigan quarterback was a completion to wide receiver Mike Brown, resulting in one of the loudest cheers of the day among fans in attendance.
Robinson was frequently utilized in that capacity during the Jaguars’ organized team activities and remains in the plans of new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. The degree to which he’ll be involved with special teams might not be so widespread after Robinson was not among the players catching punts during practice.
“We’re getting closer to (defining his role) but not going away from what he can improve on,” Bradley said. “We’d like to see him back there on punts as a threat. He’s so athletic.”
Brown was singled out by Bradley for more than just the catch he made of Robinson’s throw. With Justin Blackmon still sidelined after surgery on his groin and facing a four-game suspension from the NFL when the regular season opens, Brown might be A legitimate threat to start opposite Cecil Shorts III.
“I keep telling these guys when you compete, it shows up on tape,” Bradley said. “And he has done that.”