JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It looks like journeyman Todd Bouman will make his first start in nearly five years.
The Jacksonville Jaguars ruled out starter David Garrard on Friday because of a concussion and listed backup Trent Edwards as questionable with a badly sprained thumb on his throwing hand. That leaves Bouman as the healthiest and most knowledgeable option on the roster.
Coach Jack Del Rio declined to name a starter Friday, but Bouman got the majority of repetitions during practice all week and teammates expect him to get the nod when the Jaguars (3-3) play at Kansas City (3-2) on Sunday.
“Bouman is one of those savvy vets,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “It’s easy to rally around him. We respect him. His presence in the huddle is good, good energy. That’s what he brings.
“We’re blessed to have somebody that’s been in it, been here. This isn’t just some guy off the street. He knows what he’s doing. He was here last year and competed all the way ’til the end. That makes it easier for him and makes it easier for us. He can go in there and roll with our plan and execute at a high level.”
Although Bouman is in his 11th season, he only has six career starts. He’s 1-5 in those games, with his first win coming in his first start in 2001 with Minnesota. His last start came at the end of the 2005 season with New Orleans.
Nonetheless, the Jaguars have confidence in the 38-year-old Minnesotan.
“I’m overly impressed, very impressed,” receiver Mike Sims-Walker said. “Todd’s been throwing the ball like he’s been in this offense for three, four years now. He looked better than I ever expected. He had a great week of practice. We’ve just got to rally around him and adjust to how he calls plays and runs the offense.”
Bouman spent the 2008 and 2009 preseasons with Jacksonville and was on the active roster for a couple of weeks earlier this season. He acknowledged having some timing issues with receivers early in the week, but said things went smoother Friday.
“Any time you get reps during the week, obviously you get more comfortable,” said Bouman, whose wife and two children will drive 4½ hours from Minnesota for the game. “A lot of those guys I’ve been with before, so it’s not all brand new.”
Still, the Jaguars spent the week finding plays that best fit Bouman’s abilities, meaning no option plays or quarterback draws.
“Been around this long you get comfortable doing pretty much anything,” Bouman said. “It’s more just getting comfortable with the guys, being around them, figuring little nuances of what they’re going to do. Being primarily a backup over the years, you don’t get the reps. A week like this, if you do get the start, you get the reps during the week and it makes it that much easier.”
If Bouman does get the start, it could be a one-week deal.
Del Rio said he expects Garrard to be cleared to practice early next week and return to the starting lineup at Dallas.
“I think all involved anticipate him being cleared Monday or Tuesday and back at practice,” Del Rio said.
Garrard, knocked out of the Monday night’s 30-3 loss against Tennessee, rested at home all week before returning to the facility Friday. He took an NFL-mandated, post-concussion test Friday morning, but was not cleared to practice or play.
He wore dark sunglasses to the facility, but didn’t do any work. He walked away when approached by reporters outside the locker room.
“I think in light of all the recent developments, extreme caution is being taken,” Del Rio said. “We’re erring on the side of safety.”
Edwards, who slammed his thumb into an opponent’s helmet Monday night and played several series with the injury, was limited in practice Friday. He had a splint removed Thursday.
“He was able to grip the ball and throw the ball today, which is good,” Del Rio said. “We really wanted that thing to settle down, so we didn’t do much Wednesday or Thursday. It was improved today. We didn’t want to overdo it, so he was limited today.”
Patrick Ramsey, signed Tuesday, worked mostly with the scout team all week. Regardless of who starts, Del Rio’s message was clear.
“We just need to go in there and find a way as a team,” he said. “As a football team, we’ve got to find a way to rally around whoever it is that takes snaps.”