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Monday, September 30, 2013
Gus Bradley supports Blaine Gabbert

By Michael DiRocco
ESPN.com

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was pretty emphatic in his support for quarterback Blaine Gabbert after Sunday's 37-3 home loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Blaine Gabbert
Blaine Gabbert played looser, took a few shots down the field and scrambled out of the pocket to try to make plays Sunday, impressing coach Gus Bradley.

He dialed it up even more on Monday afternoon.

"I would probably be stronger now after watching the tape," Bradley said.

Bold words, considering Gabbert completed only 17 of 32 passes for 179 yards and threw three interceptions. Granted, each interception came after the ball bounced off a receiver's hands. Still, Gabbert led the Jaguars to only one field goal -- the only points the offense has generated in his two starts this season.

Bradley said he saw progress from Gabbert in the areas the coaches had stressed with him last week. He played looser, he took a few shots down the field and he scrambled out of the pocket to try to make plays. Those things didn't always work, but Bradley was encouraged by what he saw.

"I saw him use some freedom," Bradley said. "I saw him scramble around and make a play to Clay Harbor. I saw him scramble around and throw it to Ace [Sanders] on an explosive play. I saw him do some things. He took off and ran, although we have to teach him how to slide better.

"If you watch the film in that matter, you'd say, 'OK, we've got to find ways to help him.'"

Gabbert certainly looked better than he did in the season opener against Kansas City, when he completed 16 of 35 passes for 121 yards with two interceptions in a 28-2 home loss, but he was returning from a fractured right thumb he suffered in the second preseason game. Gabbert suffered a cut on the back of his right hand at the end of the Chiefs game and missed the next two weeks.

Sunday was his first game back and it came against a team against which he had earned three of his five victories as a starter. His second pass was a fade down the sideline that Cecil Shorts bobbled, leading to an interception. Gabbert had another pass bounce off Shorts' hands that cornerback Darius Butler intercepted and returned for a touchdown in the second quarter.

"You're never satisfied when the game doesn't go the way you want it to," said Gabbert, who has thrown five interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 30.7 in his two starts. "We did take some shots, but we have to make plays when the ball's in the air. It starts with me at the quarterback position. I have to put the ball in a better spot and I just have to execute."

Gabbert will have a little more help against the St. Louis Rams this Sunday because receiver Justin Blackmon, who caught a team-high 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie last season, returns after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The Jags (0-4) may not have tight end Marcedes Lewis, however. He re-injured his left calf on the Jaguars' first possession against the Colts and missed the rest of the game. Bradley said Lewis would be limited this week, and Lewis didn't sound optimistic about playing against the Rams (1-3).

"It's sore and a little swollen," Lewis said. "Every time I tweak it, it does the same thing. It's just going to take a little more time this time to kind of get it right.

"May just need some time just to rest it."

In other injury news, Bradley said receiver Denard Robinson (hamstring) and cornerback Alan Ball (rib contusion) will be limited early in the week. Neither injury is expected to be serious, and Robinson said Monday that he felt fine. Also, receiver Stephen Burton and safety Dwight Lowery will re-take concussion baseline tests Tuesday, Bradley said.