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Garrard, Gabbert unimpressive as third-stringer delivers Jags' win


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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- David Garrard threw an interception. Blaine Gabbert misfired several times.

Neither did much to alter Jacksonville's quarterback competition Friday night against Atlanta. Garrard didn't solidify his starting spot and Gabbert didn't close the gap.

Third-stringer Luke McCown was better than both, completing a 12-yard pass to Armon Binns in the fourth quarter to give the Jaguars a 15-13 victory against the Falcons in a preseason game.

"I thought I played a little up and down," Gabbert said. "There's definitely things I can improve on. ... Missed a few throws, but you're going to miss a few throws. You can't be perfect on every snap."

Garrard completed 7 of 12 passes for 99 yards, with an interception in three series. Gabbert, the 10th pick in the April draft, went 11 of 23 for 96 yards in seven series. Gabbert was plagued by several drops, including three on one second-half series that forced the Jaguars to settle for a 54-yard field goal.

Matt Ryan's receiving corps had similar issues, but Harry Douglas turned a short crossing route into a 76-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Ryan finished 7 of 15 for 116 yards.

"I thought we did some good things, but we also made some mistakes," Ryan said. "There are a lot of things to improve on. I don't think our execution was up to our standards that we set for ourselves, but that's why you have a preseason."

Ryan played the entire first half as Atlanta built a 10-3 lead. Michael Turner ran seven times for 14 yards, and Roddy White had a 13-yard reception. Douglas caught two passes for 87 yards.

But the Falcons failed to hold onto an early lead for the second consecutive week.

"We're coming up a little short, obviously, these last two weeks," tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "I don't care what anybody says about preseason. You still want to win the game."

Jacksonville's first two drives ended with turnovers. Garrard, who missed last week's preseason opener because of a sore back, badly overthrew Mike Thomas deep. Cornerback Brent Grimes was the only one in the vicinity. He picked it off in the end zone and returned it 62 yards, setting up Matt Bryant's 34-yard field goal.

On Jacksonville's next possession, rookie Cecil Shorts bobbled a handoff from Garrard on an end around and gave the Falcons the ball in great field position.

"We can't continue to shoot ourselves," Garrard said.

Ryan couldn't capitalize on the second turnover, though. Jeremy Mincey pressured Ryan into intentional grounding on third down, essentially ending the drive.

Mincey, still dealing with the death of a childhood friend, posed all sorts of problems for the Falcons.

"When he's on his keys and knows what he is doing, he's unblockable," teammate Aaron Kampman said. "I think he's going to have a great year."

Ryan had Mincey in his face on several plays. He looked much better when he got time and found Douglas across the middle. Douglas beat Jacksonville's new nickel back, Drew Coleman, and outran several defenders to the end zone.

It was Atlanta's play of the night.

McCown provided Jacksonville's top highlight. McCown connected with Binns in the corner of the end zone with 6:19 remaining. That put the Jaguars ahead 15-13. McCown missed a wide-open receiver on the two-point conversion, silencing any talk about him getting into the quarterback competition.

That's for Garrard and Gabbert to decide, and it could come down to the final two preseason games.

Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson, who played against Garrard the last six years as a member of the Houston Texas, offered his opinion on the battle.

"Garrard does what he does and that's to manage football games," Robinson said. "He lets the plays come to him. He plays within the system and is a very good field manager. Gabbert can make every single throw. His future is very bright. I think he's going to be a very good quarterback in this league."

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