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Blaine Gabbert labels Lombardi's critique 'comical'

Blaine Gabbert started 14 games last season as a rookie quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Through a physically grueling, often-exasperating campaign, Gabbert's teammates stuck close to him.

So did his critics.

One voice from the wilderness, CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, told his readers Tuesday that Gabbert "will not be a bust -- even if most of you think he will be."

Kind words on the heels of stinging reviews, one from NFL Network's Mike Lombardi in December. Here's a portion of what Lombardi had to say about Gabbert (you can read the rest here):

"In my 20-plus years in the NFL, I don't think I have seen a high first-round pick look as scared or as out of place as Blaine Gabbert," Lombardi wrote. "The game looks entirely too big for him. When the ball is in his hand, he treats it like a hot potato. His play was embarrassing, considering he was a top-10 pick. I believed Gabbert was a good prospect and wrote about it leading up to the draft. When everyone was concerned about his down-field throws, I thought he would be able to adjust. But never did I think his eye level would be this low, his unwillingness to hang in the pocket this bad. I readily admit my mistake. Now the Jaguars need to do the same. How can they expect players around him to buy in? Gabbert cannot fool his teammates. If he continues to play like this, no one will want to play with him."

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When Prisco met with Gabbert last week in Jacksonville, he handed the quarterback a copy of the assessment by Lombardi, a former NFL front-office executive. According to Prisco, Gabbert read it, paused and looked up from the paper.

"Who is Mike Lombardi?" Gabbert asked. "Every season a player is going to have a certain label. It creates buzz. It creates controversy and interest. Whatever the label is for the year, it's going to stick with you. He doesn't know what's going on. He doesn't know anything about me. It's comical. It's funny."

To Gabbert's credit, he comes across as focused and intent on reversing his play from last season. He's concerned about what his teammates think, not about the white noise surrounding him. But Lombardi stands by what he wrote and by his assessment of a quarterback who remains under fire -- long after the games have ended.

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