JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A decision on Blaine Gabbert's return from a broken thumb could stretch until game day.
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday that his quarterback decision "very easily could" last until before Sunday's game against Kansas City.
"We've got some decisions to make," Bradley said. "I know he feels better every day, so I think we're going to have to get as much time as we can to evaluate this."
Gabbert, who had a small amount of tape on his thumb, was limited in practice Wednesday.
"At times he looked good, and at times he looked like he had an injury," Bradley said on a conference call with Kansas City media.
With Jacksonville reporters, Bradley was more optimistic.
"I thought I saw some glimpses at the end where he was starting to get into a little bit more of a rhythm," Bradley said.
Gabbert sustained a hairline fracture in his right thumb during the team's second preseason game, Aug. 17 at the New York Jets. Gabbert sat out the final two exhibitions, and team doctors thought he would be healthy enough to play against the Chiefs.
He started gripping a football last week and making throws. But it remains to be seen how his thumb will hold up during live action or with the pounding of snaps.
"You can't worry about it," Gabbert said. "In practice you can't worry about it because then you're thinking about something that's really not relevant when you're going through a play, a progression and a read. I imagine on game day it won't even be a thought in my mind. ... That's something that's taking your mind away from the goal at hand, which is executing the plays, scoring points and winning a football game. You're not worried about a little nick you have here or there."
If Gabbert can't play, backup Chad Henne would get the start.
"I have to prepare to be the starter and practice that way, and whatever decision's made, at least I know I'll be ready," Henne said. "I can't control any of that. It's up to the coaching staff. Whatever they feel comfortable. For me, it's just prepare as much as I can and hopefully it'll carry over to game day."
What Bradley hopes to avoid is a scenario in which Gabbert starts and then isn't able to finish the game.
"I'm not saying we won't make a mistake if that occurs, but that's why we're taking a look at all of our options and making sure right now so we can make a well-informed decision," Bradley said.
Gabbert has played through pain before: a nagging toe injury as a rookie in 2011 and a torn labrum in his left, non-throwing shoulder last season. But neither of those affected how he gripped and threw the ball. So this injury is more concerning for him and the team.
"He's going to feel it," Bradley said. "I don't' know the pain's going to be gone, you know. I don't know if that's going to happen. It may be, but I imagine with something like that he's going to have a little bit of pain in there, so can he be effective? Is it a distraction for him? Can he tolerate it? Those are all things we've just got to find out with him and how he's feeling.
"All I can say is this: When I meet with him, he tells me, 'Hey, it's getting better. It's getting better. I felt less today than I did yesterday.' So he's progressing. With that in mind, we know we still have some time."