JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There wasn’t anything that could make Mike Brewster feel better about his debut performance as the Jaguars’ starting center.
One text helped ease his mind a bit, though.
Brewster had a pair of high-shot snaps -- one on a third down and another on a fourth down -- that ended up costing the Jaguars 37 yards, and the former Ohio State standout was angry and frustrated with himself after the Jaguars’ 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay. Then he picked up his phone and saw the text from LaCharles Bentley, a two-time Pro Bowl NFL center who now runs a training center in Ohio for offensive linemen.
"He was, like, ‘First preseason game at center same thing happened to me two times,’" Brewster said. "So that was the only thing that made me feel a little better.
"It just hasn’t been a problem. It kind of came out of nowhere."
That’s what makes what happened Friday night somewhat palatable. Brewster hasn’t had issues with the snap in OTAs, minicamp or training camp. He said he had one bad snap during camp when the ball slipped out of his hand, but it’s not like balls have been regularly sailing over quarterback Chad Henne’s head.
Brewster said the ones that did on Friday night were because he fired the ball back too hard -- and that may have been the result of nerves. He was making his first start at center since Ohio State and Florida played on the same field in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Jan. 1, 2012.
"There was a little jitters and stuff -- I’m not going to lie," he said. "It was good to get that one out of the way."
There already were some concerns about Brewster’s ability to take over for Brad Meester as the starter. That’s why the Jaguars went after restricted free agent Alex Mack, signing the two-time Pro Bowler to a five-year, $42 million ($26 million guaranteed) contract. When Cleveland promptly matched the offer, the Jaguars decided to stick with Brewster and hope he improved his lower-body strength and run blocking.
Reviews have been mixed on the latter two areas and the poor snaps only added to the anxiety of whether Brewster can handle the job. But at this point the Jaguars don’t really have any other options, unless they move Jacques McClendon -- who is battling with rookie Brandon Linder for the starting job at right guard -- to center. There aren’t any starting centers just waiting for a phone call.
"We’re going to continue to grow with him and challenge him, but just like with all of our guys we need to see improvement," coach Gus Bradley said. "We still have faith in him."
Brewster was confident he won’t have any issues with his snaps any longer.
"Obviously if it was something that continued to happen, then it would be a problem," he said. "I don’t foresee that happening."