Jacksonville (8-3) at Cleveland (4-7)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sun Dec 4, 2005
  • TV: CBS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Jacksonville Jaguars were dealt a potentially damaging blow last week when starting quarterback Byron Leftwich broke his ankle.

Backup David Garrard hopes to keep the Jaguars on course for their first postseason berth since 1999 while Leftwich recovers when they visit the Cleveland Browns.

Leftwich suffered the injury last Sunday on the Jaguars’ first offensive play of a 24-17 road win over the Arizona Cardinals. Leftwich said he will not have surgery to repair the ankle, and the Jaguars haven’t placed him on injured reserve, meaning they hope to have him back at some point this season.

“(A month) is the most conservative outlook that I can give,” said Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio. “It could be more, I doubt it could be less. For the next two weeks, he’ll be in a non weight-bearing state and allow the leg to heal.

“After that, we’ll just have to see where he’s at and take it from there. He has responded well to injuries in the past.”

Leftwich believes his history of bouncing back following an injury may not repeat itself with the broken ankle.

“I know I’ve been fortunate enough in the past to move up a few weeks on certain injuries, but you’re talking about a broken bone,” Leftwich said. “It’s not like a broken wrist. If it’s a broken left wrist, I could still play. It’s a broken ankle. It’s hard to play on a broken ankle. How can you really rush that? You can’t.”

The Jaguars will now trust Garrard with their offense. He takes control of a team that has won four straight to put itself in good position to secure one of two AFC wild-card spots. The Jaguars are three games behind the undefeated Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South race.

Garrard will be making only his fourth career start Sunday. He is 45-of-89 with two touchdowns and one interception in his three previous starts.

Garrard filled in for Leftwich twice last year, but this time he may have to start for the remainder of the regular season.

“It’s exciting,” Garrard said Wednesday. “I feel sad that Byron’s not going to make it back during the regular season because he got this team to where it’s at right now. But I want to be able to take over and do what I can to keep the ship moving.

“I don’t want to be Superman and try to go out and make every play. I just want to go out and make the plays that present themselves. That’s all I’m here for right now—to keep the ship going.”

Garrard will be missing his biggest weapon in the backfield as starting running back Fred Taylor will be out Sunday with an injured ankle. Taylor, who will miss his third game in four weeks, has rushed for 462 yards and five touchdowns in three career games against Cleveland.

Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer injured his right knee in last Sunday’s 24-12 loss at Minnesota, and an MRI showed tendinitis in the joint.

Browns coach Romeo Crennel says he plans to play Dilfer if he’s healthy enough to go instead of turning to rookie Charlie Frye.

“You can drive with your wife who’s been driving for say 10 years, or you can drive with your daughter who hasn’t driven before,” Crennel said Wednesday. “Who are you going to choose?”

However, even if Dilfer gets the start, Crennel knows giving Frye snaps this season may be a key for Cleveland’s future.

“If we leave this year without knowing what he can do … then that hurts us going into the draft and free agency,” Crennel said. “We need to give him a couple of consistent series to see how he handles those.

“Maybe a full quarter, then I think we’ll begin to find out what he can do.”

Two more Cleveland defeats would leave the Browns with their third straight losing season.

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Team Stat Leaders

Passing Yards
Rushing Yards
Receiving Yards

Scoreboard

Preseason
  Thursday, Sep 1  
  Atlanta
Miami 20
17 Final
     
  Houston
Tampa Bay 14
38 Final
     
  NY Jets
Philadelphia 37
14 Final
     
  Washington
Baltimore 20
26 Final
OT
     
  Pittsburgh
Carolina 21
17 Final
     
  Cleveland
Chicago 16
6 Final
     
  Jacksonville
Dallas 20
27 Final
     
  Green Bay
Tennessee 21
17 Final
     
  NY Giants
New England 27
3 Final
     
  New Orleans
Oakland 6
13 Final
     
  San Francisco
San Diego 24
28 Final
      Friday, Sep 2  
  Detroit
Buffalo 21
7 Final
     
  Indianapolis
Cincinnati 0
38 Final
     
  Kansas City
St. Louis 23
27 Final
     
  Minnesota
Seattle 23
21 Final
     
  Denver
Arizona 30
21 Final