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Garrard still Jaguars' QB after backup McCown lost for season

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars are pretty much stuck with quarterback David Garrard, at least for this season.

Backup quarterback Luke McCown, who replaced Garrard in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 38-13 loss at San Diego, will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late in the game. McCown injured his knee on a 4-yard scramble with less than a minute remaining.

Garrard re-entered the game and threw a touchdown pass to Mike Sims-Walker on the next play, the quarterback's lone highlight in an otherwise forgetful performance.

Garrard followed the best game of his nine-year NFL career with one of his worst. He threw four interceptions against the Chargers, tying his career high set against the Houston Texans in 2006.

But with McCown out and no other quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, the Jaguars are committed to Garrard. Free agent Todd Bouman was working with quarterbacks coach Mike Shula late Monday, a good indication the team plans to sign him to be Garrard's backup for this weekend's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Del Rio, who called Garrard a middle-tier quarterback in January, said Monday that the starter needs to play better for the Jaguars (1-1) to have a chance this season.

"It's kind of like our football team: You feel good about the work you put in, you believe you're better than what you just showed," Del Rio said. "When you get an opportunity on Sunday to prove it, prove it. That's really what it is.

"There's no way he can say enough things or I can sit here and convince you of it having a chance to go that way by having some eloquent speech prepared. It's going to have to be proven on the field. We're going to have to see it. Believe me, I would love for that to be the case, for him to take a major step forward for himself and for our football team 'cause we need that."

Although Garrard received much of the blame for Jacksonville's latest debacle on the West Coast -- the Jaguars have been outscored 99-16 in their last three cross-country trips -- there were other concerns.

Sims-Walker and running back Maurice Jones-Drew each fumbled, giving Jacksonville six turnovers in the game. And the defense gave up 151 rushing yards, applied little pressure on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, lost All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates several times and allowed way too many big plays.

The Chargers finished with 477 yards.

"You saw the first week of the season there was a lot of consistent play and a lot of good things going on," guard Uche Nwaneri said. "You're going to face a little bit of adversity throughout the season. That's just the way it goes. We understand that, and we know that while the score makes it look really bad, we're a much better team than what we put out there yesterday. It doesn't shake our confidence in what we believe we can do."

Del Rio and players pointed to the turnovers as the biggest culprit in the latest lopsided loss. Four of the team's first five possessions ended with turnovers -- three interceptions and a fumble. Jacksonville opened the second half with another fumble and another pick.

"It's the NFL. You turn the ball over once, you've got a problem," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "A turnover is like a touchdown for the defense. When you can turn the ball over and stop momentum. We had momentum. We were getting ready to score in the red zone, had the ball deep in their territory and turnover.

"First of all, it crushes the offense and then it energized the defense. We can't do that. We can't have mistakes like that. It's unacceptable. We understand that and we'll be better this week."

Garrard played significantly better in the opener. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns against the Denver Broncos and finished with his best passer rating.

It was exactly what Garrard wanted and needed after Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver and Del Rio challenged him in the offseason to be a better leader off the field and be more consistent on the field.

Now, the 32-year-old Garrard is back where he began the season -- trying to prove he's a capable starter.

"With a ballgame like this, we all have to own up to what it is that went wrong and have some resolve to make it better going forward and then we've got to put it behind us," Del Rio said. "I think it's imperative that we dust ourselves off and get ourselves up for the next opportunity."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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