First-round draft pick quarterback Blaine Gabbert was among 28 Jacksonville Jaguars players who practiced together for the first time at an area high school.
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Previously, the players had been working in small groups throughout the area to stay in shape through the NFL lockout.
Gabbert, the 10th pick overall out of Missouri, spent much of the hour and a half practice taking instruction from starting quarterback David Garrard and throwing to a variety of receivers, including Cecil Shorts III, the Jags’ fourth-round pick.
”It’s been a blast,” said Gabbert. ”It’s good to get out here with the guys and have the opportunity to work out a little bit and throw the ball around.”
Gabbert said he arrived in town Sunday and has been working out with his group since. At night, he and Shorts have been studying film.
”We’ve been working (in groups) two months and not many teams can say that,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said.
Garrard said media was invited to let the fans know the Jags aren’t sitting around during the lockout.
”We wanted to give the fans the ability to see us out here,” he said. ”It’s important that we do get out here and it’s important that our fans see us work so we can continue to increase ticket sales and give them hope there will be a season.”
None of the Jaguars were optimistic about an early end to the lockout. Garrard said Commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent proposal for an eight-game season wasn’t comforting.
”It’s scary,” the QB said.
Among the missing players were tight end Marcedes Lewis, who is in California, and running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who has been traveling around the country.
”It’s hard to pull them off the West coast,” Garrard said.
The players said they remain united in their struggle with NFL owners and discounted the notion owners are counting on players caving when they start missing game pay checks.
”If it does become who is going to hold their breath the longest, we’ll see who has the biggest lungs,” defensive end Aaron Kampman said. ”Hopefully it won’t come to that.”
Gabbert says it’s good to ”have the opportunity to work out a little bit and throw the ball around.”
Gabbert says he arrived in town Sunday and has been working out with his group since.