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NFL Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars Announce Blaine Gabbert As Starter For First Preseason Game

Jacksonville Jaguars Blaine Gabbert

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars delayed tipping their hand in the quarterback position until the day before the first preseason game, but it appears that Blaine Gabbert has the early leg up on Chad Henne.

The Jaguars announced on Thursday that Gabbert would start Friday night versus the Miami Dolphins, but that Henne would also see reps with the first-team offense as well. Neither quarterback will have the benefit of the starting supporting cast as the Jaguars announced that starting wide receivers Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon as well as starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew would all miss the preseason opener.

There has been a ton of publicity given to the Jaguars quarterback competition so far in training camp, but the smart money still remains on Gabbert being under center when the Jaguars open the regular season against the Kansas City Chiefs in September. The Jaguars coaching staff has publicly been saying it is an open competition, but privately it is being said that they favor Gabbert’s upside over what they believe Henne can bring.

That is not to say that the competition is over, but it would take a magnificent performance from Henne throughout the preseason to unseat Gabbert from the top of the depth chart. At this point in his career, I have a hard time seeing Henne playing well enough and being consistent enough to claim the starting job.

The Jaguars are in the beginning of a total rebuild in 2013 and the franchise gains nothing by throwing Henne out to play quarterback this season. Gabbert on the other hand still has the potential to be a key piece of the franchise moving forward and the team needs to figure out if he can take a step forward in 2013.

You can follow Joey on twitter @joeyfarbo.