NFL Nation: Khalif Bbarnes

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  Quarterback David Garrard slimmed down for this season and the Jaguars hope the rest of the offense sees similar improvements.
Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Having lost 15-20 pounds, David Garrard gets a constant reminder that his diet worked.

"Button downs, suits, jeans, everything is too big," he said Monday after the Jaguars held an OTA practice.

Garrard held nothing back when he talked of the wardrobe alterations he needs.

"Even my drawers, but I'll just buy new ones of those," said Garrard, sporting about 225 pounds on his 6-foot-1-inch frame. "It's time to get more of my stuff done, because I've had very little to wear."

So, about 30 pieces of clothes are in the back of his black Mercedes Benz S Class, ready for a stop at Garrard's tailor.

Jacksonville's general manager Gene Smith and coach Jack Del Rio have been doing some tailoring of their own: Their major offseason moves have been intended to reshape the roster and place Garrard in more optimal situations.

Gone are receivers Jerry Porter, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones and left tackle Khalif Barnes.

Three new tackles -- veteran Tra Thomas and draft picks Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton -- are here to help protect Garrard and make the running game more effective. Four new receivers -- veteran Torry Holt and draft picks Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard and Tiquan Underwood -- were brought into to improve the arsenal.

Since he was elevated to be the team's starting quarterback just before the 2007 season, Garrard's been good (102.2 passer rating in 2007 with 15 more touchdowns than picks) and not-so-good (81.7 passer rating in 2008 with two more touchdowns than picks).

The Jaguars endured an injury-plagued 2008 season. They saw their locker room come apart during a 5-11 campaign that started with legitimate Super Bowl hopes. Garrard's third season as the starting quarterback will go a long way to telling his story, he understands.

Is he a quality, dependable NFL quarterback? Or is the eighth-year veteran a question mark?

David Garrard Fantasy Forecast:
Projected 2009 Stats

Pass attempts:  515
Pass completions:  325
Passing yards:  3,529
Pass TDs:  14
Rush yards:  354
Rush TDs:  4

It's unfair to judge Garrard too harshly for his 2008 numbers. The interior of the Jacksonville offensive line, previously a strength, was pummeled by injury early in the season, leading Garrard to the ignominious crown of most knocked-down quarterback of the year. Despite the heat, Garrard managed a decent completion percentage (61.1) and finished 10th in the NFL in passing yards. The Jags have concerns at tackle for '09 but did use their first two picks on Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, and they should rely heavily on those rookies. But unless Torry Holt finds the Fountain of Youth or another receiver steps up, Garrard won't be a fantasy starter. However, he's a heady decision-maker and could lead the league in rush yards by a quarterback. He's a bye-week quarterback with a high ceiling.
-- Christopher Harris

Complete '09 QB projections & profiles

"People that doubt Dave just have to look at 2007 film," offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. "I mean Dave can do it. We've got to help him, we've got to play better around him. He is a good distributor of the ball, he's good at what people want to call being a game-manager. But Dave can win the game for you too. Dave can make all the throws, he's mobile, he can beat you running. We've got to give him some help and he's got to do his part, which he will."

Having watched the roster reshaping and gained endurance and a quicker first step with the slim-down, Garrard's in a happy place.

"I feel real good right now," Garrard said. "I feel like I can sleep at night."

His job going forward is a simple one, he said: Limit turnovers while getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers, starting with running back Maurice Jones-Drew and including Holt, those rookie receivers and the holdovers like receiver Mike Walker and tight end Marcedes Lewis.

Critics point to two weaknesses in Garrard's game. He doesn't always seem thorough in scanning the field ticking through progressions and, while he's accurate short and intermediate, his deep stuff hasn't been great.

Koetter said the deep-ball question depends on how you define deep. While Garrard might not be the best throwing the ball over the top, he's excellent in another down-the-field department.

"What we call seam throws, throwing the ball in a seam somewhere in an 18- to 25-yard box where you've got to fit it between the linebackers and a safety or in a hole between the safety and the corner, Dave throws those as good as anybody out there," Koetter said. "Throw-it-on-a-line-posts, drive it in there, he throws great and those are really harder throws. He just hasn't had very many chances to throw the big air-it-out over the top throw. He could do better throwing those, but we haven&#
39;t given him very many chances."

Garrard said he needs to trust that his guys will go up and make a play for him and not be reluctant to take shots, and promises he will do both with the new crew. He said he feels confident he'll connect or be returning to the huddle after an incompletion, not heading to the sideline after a turnover.

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