Jaguars hand reins to rookie QB Luton vs. Texans
In much the same way that opportunity knocked for Gardner Minshew II during his rookie campaign last season, so it knocks now for Jaguars rookie quarterback Jake Luton.
Luton, a sixth-round pick out of Oregon State, will take his first professional snaps on Sunday when Jacksonville (1-6) hosts the Houston Texans (1-6) at TIAA Bank Stadium.
It comes by virtue of an injury suffered by the signal-caller ahead of him on the Jacksonville depth chart.
Minshew capitalized when veteran Nick Foles was lost to injury in the 2019 season opener, passing for 275 yards and two touchdowns while completing 22 of 25 attempts in a 40-26 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Minshew ultimately started 12 of 14 games as a rookie and made Foles expendable by amassing 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns with a 91.2 rating.
Now it is Minshew who is sidelined, felled by a strained ligament and multiple fractures in his right thumb.
“I think playing the quarterback position you’ve got to be pretty even-keeled,” Luton said. “It’s something I pride myself in, just being composed at all times. That’s something that the team looks to and guys really respect.
“I just try to approach it day in and day out as a first-year guy coming in and preparing like I’m going to play. Whether I am or not, I’m going to prepare that way so when my time comes I’ll be ready.”
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone touted his decision to start Luton by lauding the 24-year-old for his professionalism. But practice reps don’t exactly mimic the action on Sundays.
“Unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy for a rookie,” Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. “First game, he hasn’t taken a lot of reps with the first team. In fact, I don’t think he’s called one of our plays in the huddle since training camp so it will not be easy for him.
“It’s his job to be prepared mentally and make sure he goes through the right progressions, handles himself in protections, gets the ball deep to (running back) James Robinson when he hands it off and does things right,” Gruden said. “We’ll do the best we can to make it as easy as possible for him. But it never is.”
The onus is on the Texans’ 30th-ranked defense to make things difficult for Luton, something Houston has repeatedly failed at when assessing results against opposing quarterbacks.
Of course, the Texans have faced Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers, quarterbacks who qualify as stiff competition.
Given their season-long struggles, the Texans can ill-afford to approach Luton with arrogance.
“I think when you talk about a young quarterback, sometimes they can get overconfident and think that the young quarterback doesn’t know anything and he can’t do anything,” Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel said. “So, when you get overconfident then you get burned. You give up touchdowns and then you say, ‘Wow, that guy was better than I thought he was.’ Well, I don’t want that to happen. I want them to understand that this guy is a professional football player. He’s got ability. If he didn’t have ability, he wouldn’t be there.
“We’ve got to treat him just like he’s the best guy in the world because he is the best in the world because he’s going against us this week.”
The Texans defeated the Minshew-led Jags 30-14 on Oct. 11 in Houston for their first win of the season after Bill O’Brien was fired.
Wideout Randall Cobb (illness) missed practice Wednesday for the Texans but starting cornerback Bradley Roby (knee) was a full participant after leaving their Week 7 game.
For the Jags, Myles Jack (ankle) and CB Sidney Jones (ribs) were limited as was starting OL A.J. Cann (shoulder).
–Field Level Media