Brunell says he'll be healthy by Sunday

Updated: October 1, 2003, 9:06 PM ET

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Forget the injury report. Mark Brunell expects to be ready to play Sunday.

Whether he will play is another question -- and whether his coach agrees with his prognosis is yet another sticking point, as the winless Jacksonville Jaguars take their unsettled quarterback situation into the next game, against San Diego.

Brunell was cleared to practice Wednesday, but was also listed as questionable on the injury report with a scraped-up elbow, a gash that required five stitches on Sept. 22. Rarely one to stir things up, Brunell made his feelings clear after a practice in which he threw lightly on the side, saying it would be frustrating not to play if he's healthy, which he feels he will be.

"That will be real difficult -- feeling physically ready to roll and not being able to," Brunell said. "That would be a hard one, particularly since we need a win so bad."

Rookie Byron Leftwich said he took the majority of snaps with the first team in practice. Backup David Garrard took the rest. Brunell got none.

"I don't have any clue what's going to happen," said Leftwich, the first-round draft pick who made his first career start last week.

Coach Jack Del Rio didn't offer any hints as to what he'll do, and he refused to budge when asked if Brunell would start if healthy.

"We'll reassess the quarterback situation tomorrow," he said. "I'm not going to get into talking about what might or might not happen."

The rookie head coach is facing one of the age-old questions in the business -- whether a quarterback can lose his starting job due to injury.

With the team 0-4, and with Brunell almost certainly gone after this season, there is a growing sense that the Jaguars need to give Leftwich as much experience as possible to build for the future. Until last week, however, Del Rio has insisted on playing Brunell, sticking with the policy that he'll play those he feels give him the best chance to win.

Brunell still thinks it's him. Doctors told him he could start practicing, so long as he was careful, and he doesn't see any reason he shouldn't be ready to play Sunday.

"If it busts open again, yes, of course. But that's not going to happen," he said of his wound. "It's been, what, 10 days? The chance of infection is gone. I don't expect to have any more problems with it."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index