Garrard accepts full responsibility for being cut by Jaguars

One day after his release from the Jacksonville Jaguars, quarterback David Garrard wasn't pointing any fingers.

"I have no one to blame but myself," Garrard told The Florida Times-Union on Wednesday in his first public comments since he was cut.

The Jaguars on Tuesday made the shocking decision to release their starting quarterback since 2007, just days before the season opener. Now, the team hands the reins to veteran Luke McCown -- with rookie Blaine Gabbert backing him up -- as it prepares for Sunday's home game against the Tennessee Titans.

Garrard was shocked to learn of the Jaguars' decision in a meeting with coach Jack Del Rio and general manager Gene Smith.

"I've been practicing really good, wasn't able to show it in the game," Garrard said. "I guess they just felt like it wasn't enough."

The search for a new gig has begun for Garrard and his agent, Albert Irby, who told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that he's awaiting proposals from two teams and expected to have them by the end of Wednesday. Irby said five teams expressed interest in Garrard, but he declined to name any out of respect to them and their current quarterbacks.

"I still have a fire inside of me," Garrard told The Times-Union, adding that he didn't want to make any decisions off "emotional impulse."

Since throwing 18 touchdown passes and just three interceptions in 2007, Garrard had thrown 53 touchdowns and 38 interceptions and been sacked 117 times. The Jaguars also suffered late-season collapses the previous two years, casuing them to miss the playoffs.

Garrard's release was eerily similar to the way he inherited the starting job, when he took over for Byron Leftwich, who was released after the preseason finale. Del Rio, who also was responsible for that decision, acknowledged Wednesday that the timing of Garrard's release could have been better. It happened just two hours after the team introduced Garrard as its starting quarterback at a kickoff luncheon at the chamber of commerce.

"I don't like the idea that the timing went down the way it did, but it did," Del Rio said. "Ultimately as an organization we've got to make decisions when they're not comfortable and make the best decision for the football team. I do believe we've done that.

"Sometimes it just doesn't fall the way you'd like it to in terms of timelines and things you have commitments to. From that standpoint, I would prefer it have gone down differently. You deal with things as you have to. We took that one to the last possible minute because it was something that we continued to hold out hope for."

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Garrard struggled in the preseason, completing 50 percent of his passes for 216 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked three times.

McCown was better, although it came mostly against second- and third-teamers. He completed 12 of 18 passes for 133 yards and two scores. He didn't have a turnover and didn't take a sack.

Nonetheless, the Jaguars settled on Garrard during final roster cuts last weekend. They released an updated depth chart Monday, with Garrard as the starter, rookie Blaine Gabbert as the backup and McCown as No. 3.

One two-hour workout Monday shuffled everything. Players called the practice the worst they had seen in some time. For Del Rio, who grew tired of Garrard's inconsistent ways last season, that was enough to go to Smith and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver and get permission to cut Garrard.

"It was a shocking thing," guard Uche Nwaneri said. "That's the nature of the business. You never know when your number's going to come up. We love Dave here. He's done a lot here, been to battle with him a lot. I'll always have a spot for him in my heart. That's the decision the front office made.

"Luke is the guy now, and everyone's going to rally around him."

Team leaders called a players-only meeting Wednesday to help everyone understand the decision and move forward.

"We knew the changing of the guard was coming," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "We drafted Blaine Gabbert with the 10th pick. We just didn't know when the changing of the guard would come. Obviously, it's now, and it's with Luke. This definitely is going to test the maturity of our team."

McCown's maturity, too.

McCown, 30, has completed 49 percent of his passes for 1,739 yards and nine touchdowns with 10 interceptions in his NFL career. He spent one year with the Cleveland Browns and four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing with the Jaguars in 2009.

"I've never looked at myself and said I'm a career backup," McCown said. "I always, in my heart of hearts, knew I would get another opportunity."

McCown probably would have replaced Garrard early last season. Garrard threw four interceptions at San Diego in Week 2 and was benched in favor of McCown. But McCown tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and needed season-ending surgery. Garrard returned to the game and kept his job.

Now it's McCown's turn. Even though he's often confused with brothers Josh and Randy, as well as former UCLA quarterback Cade McNown, this could be his chance to shine.

"I'll take this in stride," he said. "I'm excited about it. It's an opportunity I've waited for, prepared for a long time. ... It's like riding a bike. You step back in and you look the other 10 men in the huddle in the eyes and you grab heads and you say, 'Let's go."'

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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