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Blaine Gabbert shakes off early gaffe for Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars hoped to exit this preseason journey with a more game-ready Blaine Gabbert under center. Things got off to a bad start Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons.

On Jacksonville's first offensive play, Gabbert's pitch to Rashad Jennings deflected off lead blocker Greg Jones, spinning to the ground where it was recovered by Falcons defensive tackle Vance Walker on the Jaguars' 5. One play later, Falcons back Jacquizz Rodgers rolled in for the touchdown.

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Gabbert's second drive fizzled, too, but his third showed some of the promise we saw earlier in the preseason. The second-year starter leaned heavily on Jennings during a 22-play, 76-yard drive that ended with Gabbert missing Laurent Robinson on a fourth-and-goal slant from the Atlanta 1.

Gabbert finished 7 of 12 for 64 yards -- lukewarm fodder -- but Jennings might be the story of the night. He was used no differently than Maurice Jones-Drew a season ago, handed the ball 11 times for 34 yards in just over a quarter of play.

Mike Mularkey played his starters for 30-plus snaps in a 24-14 victory against his old team. Gabbert and Co. will next see the field against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 9.

There was buzz around Gabbert following wins over the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints. He was ugly in last week's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but we saw less of the happy-feet passer against Atlanta. Gabbert continues to build chemistry with wideout Justin Blackmon -- he first-looked the rookie over and over Thursday -- and that's one reason we see Blackmon as a rookie of the year candidate on a team that did nothing with the ball one season ago.

UPDATE: Jaguars starting right guard Uche Nwaneri left the game with a foot injury in the first quarter.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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