JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blaine Gabbert's season came to an abrupt end Wednesday, two days after his tenure as a starting quarterback did the same.
The Jacksonville Jaguars placed Gabbert on injured reserve because of a significant forearm injury. Gabbert may have been able to return this season, but since he needs surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, the Jaguars (1-9) figured it was best to get the procedure done and get his recovery started.
"The earlier we can take care of him, the earlier we are going to get him back," coach Mike Mularkey said. "That had a lot to do with why we did what we did."
Even before Mularkey knew the severity of Gabbert's injury, he named Chad Henne the starter for Sunday's game against Tennessee (4-6). The coach made it clear that his decision was based on Henne's performance and not Gabbert's injury.
That was somewhat of a surprise, but Mularkey dropped an even bigger one Wednesday when he said Henne could secure the starting job going into next season by playing well over the final six games.
So the Jaguars appear ready to move on from Gabbert, a first-round draft pick who failed to show much progress in 24 starts. He has completed 53.7 per cent of his passes for 3,876 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He has been sacked 62 times while winning just five starts.
"You can't worry about that," Gabbert said. "There's always going to be competition on any football team at any position in any given season. It's my job to come back and work my tail off like I will and like I have and get my job back. I'm a competitive person. I'm probably one of the more of the competitive guys out there.
"I want to see other people succeed, but at the same time, personally, you have to want to succeed yourself. And that's why you have to that competitive drive to come in here and now just take that drive towards rehab and getting back healthy."
Henne plans on capitalizing on the opportunity.
He was essentially run out of Miami after four up-and-down, injury-filled seasons. A second-round pick in 2008, Henne completed 60.7 per cent of his passes with the Dolphins for 7,114 yards, with 31 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. Nicknamed "Captain Checkdown," Henne went 13-18 as a starter.
He got a second chance when the Jaguars signed him to a two-year, $6.75 million contract in March to be Gabbert's backup and possibly compete for the starting job.
But Henne never really challenged Gabbert. Maybe he was rusty from sitting out 12 games last season because of a shoulder injury. Or maybe he struggled to get comfortable in Mularkey's offence.
Either way, he looked considerably better in relief of Gabbert in recent weeks.
Henne completed 10 of 16 passes for 121 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, against Indianapolis on Nov. 8. He was even better last week at Houston, throwing for 354 yards and four scores.
"He just came out and made a lot of things happen, and that's what we're looking for," Mularkey said. "Just to try to find the production that's going to help us win the game."
Henne feels much more experienced and relaxed heading into his second stint as a starter.
"Hopefully I can keep it that way and improve from last week and try to give this offence a spark that we've kind of been missing and some leadership and just excitement," Henne said.
Henne won't have two of his key playmakers.
Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) is "highly unlikely" to play against the Titans, and receiver Laurent Robinson was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after sustaining his fourth concussion of the season.
"Obviously, very serious," Mularkey said. "Any concussion is serious, but to have four is very. I'm not sure of any other cases of that, but I know it's not a good thing. Not something we want to deal with for him and his health, so that's why we did what we did. That is a significant injury."
The Jaguars signed former Cleveland Browns receiver Carlton Mitchell to take Robinson's spot on the roster. They also brought back Jordan Palmer to serve as Henne's backup. Palmer spent the off-season and the preseason in Jacksonville.
"Experience," Mularkey said of Palmer. "Being here and being on the field, even if it was a preseason game. Being in live games, starting real NFL games, was really just the experience."