Leftwich wants to return; Jags' QB situation uncertain

Updated: December 25, 2005, 2:10 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

For the first time since 1999, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in the playoffs, having earned a wild-card spot in part because of the 3-1 record backup quarterback David Garrard has posted in replacing an injured Byron Leftwich for the past month.

Byron Leftwich
Leftwich
David Garrard
Garrard

But whether it's Garrard who actually leads the Jaguars into the postseason, when they play a wild-card game the weekend of Jan. 7-8, remains to be seen. Suddenly, it seems, the Jaguars and coach Jack Del Rio might have a quarterback quandary.

Leftwich ran for the first time on Friday since sustaining a broken left ankle in a Nov. 27 game and reported little discomfort. In fact, Leftwich felt so good that he asked Del Rio if he could play in Saturday's victory over Houston and is hopeful of getting back on the field for the New Year's Day regular-season finale against Tennessee.

It has only been about 10 days since Leftwich, who expected to miss at least four weeks and perhaps the rest of the season, discarded his crutches. The normal recovery period for such an injury is usually four to eight weeks.

Jaguars officials will err on the side of caution with Leftwich, said Del Rio, who will likely seek more input from the team's medical and training staff this week. It now seems that, at worst, Leftwich will be available for the start of the playoffs.

Jacksonville secured a wild-card berth with its 38-20 victory at Houston on Saturday, a game in which Garrard threw for a career-best 292 yards.

Garrard had played well at times in his three starts, but the Jacksonville offense was sputtering in stretches until the Jaguars exploded for three fourth-quarter touchdowns in the win over the Texans. In his four starts, Garrard has completed 76-of-126 passes for 874 yards, with four touchdown passes and only one interception.

But in the first three games with Garrard as the starter, Jacksonville had averaged 16.0 points and 299.0 yards and had not scored more than 20 points. In Saturday's victory, the Jaguars totaled 448 yards and their 38 points were the most in a game since Dec. 10, 2000. Under the direction of Leftwich, the team's first-round choice in the 2003 draft, the Jaguars averaged 21.4 points and 315.4 yards.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.