09/10/2013 04:38 PM
Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who suffered a cut on his right hand Sunday that required 15 stitches to close, will miss at least one game, coach Gus Bradley said Monday.
Chad Henne, who finished the game after Gabbert was injured with less than a minute remaining in a 28-2 loss to Kansas City, will start against the Raiders in Week 2 in Oakland.
Bradley said there's concern about further damage to Gabbert's hand. "It's got to heal and we need to keep it clean," Bradley said. "The big concern would be with all the stitches that it could reopen and then the chance of infection occurs. Some of the skin isn't there. It ripped off part of the skin, so some of those [stitches] are even open. The sweat from practice, anything that can get in there [raises] the threat of infection."
Bradley said Gabbert is taking antibiotics and will be evaluated after the Raiders game to see if the injury has healed enough for him to play against Seattle on Sept. 22.
Gabbert suffered a fractured right thumb in the Jaguars' second preseason game, yet Bradley named him the starter over Henne two days later. Gabbert didn't throw a football until the beginning of last week but improved enough to get the call against the Chiefs.
Gabbert, who missed the final six games of the 2012 season because of a forearm injury, suffered the cut during the Jaguars' final possession when he hit his hand on a facemask. He finished 16-of-35 passing for 121 yards and two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
Henne threw for 2,084 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in place of Gabbert last season. Ricky Stanzi, acquired by the Jaguars on Aug. 27 off waivers from the Chiefs, will be the backup against Oakland. Bradley said he'll talk with general manager Dave Caldwell about possibly adding a veteran quarterback this week.
Running superbly, throwing better than he ever has and giving the Raiders a fourth-quarter lead, Terrelle Pryor exasperated a strong opponent, quieted a raucous dome and gained national respect. Yet Pryor's most significant accomplishment Sunday was delivering hope. Even in defeat, his performance brought a sliver of hope to a demoralized fan base, to a head coach whose job is at stake and to a franchise that has spent the past decade mocking itself.
Oakland's 21-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium was unremarkable aside from the visual evidence of Pryor's growth as a quarterback. He was a desperate option last season, and uncertainty about his future prompted general manager Reggie McKenzie to draft one quarterback and sign another through free agency.
Now, suddenly, Pryor, in his third season, looks like the only quarterback on the roster with a chance to lift the Raiders from the Era of Embarrassment. It's one game, so there is plenty of time for opponents to study Pryor, look for tendencies and seek ways to disrupt his game. The league is, always will be, about consistency, and few struggle with that more than young passers.
But in the pressurized predicament of making his second career start, in the season opener, on the road, in a dome, against a 2012 playoff team, Pryor exceeded reasonable expectations. His Raiders actually outgained Andrew Luck's Colts 372-274.
It was largely because of Pryor's arm and feet and, yes, decision-making, that the outcome was in doubt until the final seconds, to the shock of 65,412 in attendance. Pryor's 5-yard dart to Denarius Moore with 11:09 left gave Oakland a 17-14 lead that crumbled when Indy responded by marching 80 yards for the winning touchdown.
Though Pryor's passing stats were decent -- 19 of 29, 217 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions -- his rushing stats (13 carries, a Raiders quarterback record 112 yards) were impressive and, above all, his surprisingly proficient presence was encouraging.
"He provides a spark and has some things he can do and create with his feet,'' coach Dennis Allen said. "That was outstanding. Overall, I was pleased with his performance. There's still a lot of things that we got to get cleaned up with him and ... anytime you have a young guy, you're going to have to make some corrections.''
Pryor's glaring mistakes were one late sack and two interceptions, one in the first quarter when he threw late to Rod Streater in the end zone and the other when he heaved a third-and-24 pass inside the final minute that ended Oakland's final comeback attempt.
Pryor's self-evaluation was harsh, dismissing the way he twisted the Indy defense into knots with his scrambling, ignoring his 66 percent completion rate and -- as highly competitive folks tend to do -- zeroing in on his contributions to defeat. "I did awful,'' he said. "Two interceptions ... could have won the game ... had them on the ropes down there. That's all that matters. That number on the win column is all that matters to me.''
What has to matter to the Raiders, though, is the sight of progress from young players. They haven't had a winning season since 2002, and they're trying to follow a long-term progression after years of shortsighted "plans.'' The Raiders have to be delighted with Pryor's improvement. The offseason work, including a tuneup of his throwing mechanics, has created the possibility of the kind of double-threat quarterback that brings defenders to tears.
"We knew we had a heck of a football player coming here, a talented guy, a great athlete, a guy who could do that,'' Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "But ... he did a great job.''
On a Raiders team with such a thin layer of offensive playmakers, a quarterback with Pryor's attributes represents the best possibility of success.
"Terrelle Pryor is a stud,'' Luck said. "He made some unbelievable plays.''
The cliché is that no team welcomes a moral victory, most of all because the concept is associated with losing the game. The Raiders indeed lost but won something the franchise needs, something Allen needs, something the fan base needs.
In a season when they've been casually dismissed as short on talent and without an NFL-caliber quarterback, Pryor's showing gained them a measure of respect.
Respect in the NFL equals hope, and that was hardly visible before Sunday.