The quarterback Garrard's replacement and a tested stand-in will need to stop Jacksonville¿s slide.
Jaguars' hopes lie in the hands of Edwards
On the season's opening weekend, Trent Edwards, the quarterback, led the Buffalo Bills to victory.
Today, he tries to repeat the feat ... for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Edwards is among the most prominent understudies starting behind centre as a season that was especially harsh on quarterbacks mercifully winds down.
Ailing regulars on the weekly injury report included the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez, the Dallas Cowboys' Jon Kitna, the Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick, the Detroit Lions' Drew Stanton, the Seattle Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck and, of course, Brett Favre, the walking hospital patient from the Minnesota Vikings.
This list of the limping does not include QBs already shut down and on injured reserve, notably Tony Romo (Cowboys), Vince Young (Tennessee Titans) and Matthew Stafford (Lions).
The Jags consider themselves blessed to send out a quarterback with only a slight coating of rust.
Edwards is a tested stand-in for David Garrard, gone for the year after finger surgery. "I like the way he's approached things and so I think it's a great opportunity for him to show us what he has," said Jack Del Rio, the Jaguars coach whose immediate employment fortunes might hinge on the performance of Edwards.
Defeat in Houston would deal the Jaguars, once in control of the AFC South, their third loss in a row and cede the title to Indianapolis. The hot seat under Del Rio cooled in the season but has warmed up again.
Edwards started twice for the Bills. His fall was steep and stunningly fast: benched for the season's third game, waived before the fourth. Two teams put in claims. The Jaguars, 1-2 at the time, got first choice.
Garrard was bumbling and stumbling then, raising speculation that Edwards arrived as a starter-in-waiting. But Garrard caught fire, retaining the job except during a one-week injury absence, when the Titans beat Jacksonville 30-3 under the watch of Edwards, who was nagged that day with a painful thumb. He has not launched a pass since October 18.
"It's an opportunity for me to show I can still play the position, and I know I can," he said.
"It's just a matter of now I get the opportunity to go out there and play a little bit more." Delivering an impressive win might assure Edwards of playing a lot more next season, in Jacksonville or elsewhere.
R E V I E W
Today’s feature games
Chicago at Green Bay: Concussion? What concussion? Back from his second head injury this season, Aaron Rodgers was of sound mind and body, throwing for four TDs last week. He may need to again; the Bears, with an outside shot at the NFC’s top seed, have rung up 78 points in two weeks. The Pack claim the sixth seed with a win.
Tennessee at Indianapolis: Peyton Manning, below, shaking off an interception bug, has steered Indianapolis to 30-plus points in the past three games. Nearly counted out when 6-6, the Colts take the AFC South with a victory. Otherwise, it is the Jaguars, should they win. Possibly a Titans farewell for Jeff Fisher, their coach.
St Louis at Seattle: It is the final regular season game, shifted to prime time, even though both teams are sub-.500. No matter: it is loser-go-home in the sorry NFC West. The Rams QB Sam Bradford broke Manning’s league record for completions by a rookie. The Seahawks simply appear broken, beating only Carolina in their last six games.
P R E V I E W
Other games today
• Miami at New England
• Tampa Bay at New Orleans
• Buffalo at NY Jets
• Cincinnati at Baltimore
• Pittsburgh at Cleveland
• Jacksonville at Houston
• Tennessee at Indianapolis
• Oakland at Kansas City
• Dallas at Philadelphia
• NY Giants at Washington
• Minnesota at Detroit
• Carolina at Atlanta
• San Diego at Denver
• Arizona at San Francisco