JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Quarterback Trent Edwards might be comfortable with Jacksonville's playbook, but he's far from cozy in his new surroundings.
He moved from a hotel to a condominium on Jacksonville Beach, but he's just renting the place. Who could blame him? He's in the final year of a four-year contract and has no guarantees of being with the Jaguars beyond this weekend's season finale at Houston.
A solid performance Sunday could make him a more permanent resident. Edwards will start in place of David Garrard, who had season-ending surgery on his right middle finger Thursday.
"It certainly gives us a great opportunity to evaluate Trent further," coach Jack Del Rio said. "It's a great opportunity for him to show us what he has and it's a great opportunity for us to take that all in and evaluate that.
"Every time you get an opportunity to step on the field, you get an opportunity to do that very thing, to show the team you're playing for and even other teams out there what you're all about."
Edwards, a third-round draft pick in 2007, opened the season as Buffalo's starter but was benched and released after two games.
The Jaguars (8-7) claimed him off waivers in late September. They picked up the remaining $1.36 million of his contract with the thought that Edwards might be a quarterback they could develop this season, especially considering aging starter David Garrard has been inconsistent and backup Luke McCown will be a free agent.
The finale will serve as Edwards' biggest stage.
"Not only is it a showcase game for Trent for the Jaguars, but if Trent's not with the Jaguars, he's going to be somewhere," offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. "So every team's going to look at the film. Every team that's evaluating Trent, they want his most recent film."
Edwards got thrown into the mix after two weeks in Jacksonville, replacing Garrard during a Monday night game against Tennessee on Oct. 18. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 140 yards, with two interceptions. He was sacked twice, scrambled five times for 16 yards and injured his right thumb late in the game.
He hasn't played since and hasn't gotten many repetitions in practice.
"We don't know from our experience what we're going to get," Koetter said. "I know Trent will prepare well. He's a very bright guy. He knows the system a 100 times better than he did when he got thrown out there against Tennessee. It's just fear of the unknown."
Edwards believes he's prepared for the starting role, especially after sitting through meetings and watching Garrard run the offense for 12 games.
"All of the information I've gathered from sitting and watching Dave and seeing him go through his reads and the way he carriers himself, I've been able to witness that," Edwards said. "Hopefully I can use my experience that I've had in the past for starting games in Buffalo and now coming here. I need to use that to my advantage."
Koetter plans to build the game plan around the things Edwards likes best.
"When a quarterback is playing his first game and he hasn't been playing very much, in my opinion, you're crazy as a coach if you try to force your whole package down his throat because you think it's good," Koetter said.
Edwards started 32 games in Buffalo, completing 61 percent of his passes for 5,879 yards, with 25 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. But his tenure was filled with criticism and complaints. Fans ripped him for checking down to short routes and failing in clutch situations.
So Edwards was ready for a fresh start in Jacksonville.
How he does against the reeling Texans (5-10) could determine whether the Jaguars make the playoffs — they need to win and have Tennessee upset Indianapolis — and whether he sticks around.
"It's an opportunity for me to show that I can still play the position and I know I can," Edwards said. "It's just a matter of now I get the opportunity to go out there and play a little bit more. I'm happy and excited, but we need to get this win on Sunday."