Chad Henne will start at quarterback for the Jaguars against the Panthers

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone discusses the QB battle

Chad Henne will receive the first shot at earning the Jaguars' starting quarterback job Thursday against the Carolina Panthers.

Henne will start the game with the first-team offense and Blake Bortles will serve as the second quarterback on the depth chart. Bortles will receive reps with the starting offense, the team announced.

Henne and Bortles were made aware of the decision Wednesday at the team hotel.

Henne hasn't started a regular season game since Bortles replaced him in Week 4 of the 2014 campaign. He has only played one regular season snap in the last two years combined.

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However, after producing a strong training camp performance and moving the ball well during the first two preseason games, Henne was given the opportunity to compete for the starting job against Bortles. 

"I think [Henne] deserves that opportunity," Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said after the team's 12-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I’m not going to sit here and say how much ground he’s gained. It’s just simple. I’m not going to try to make this thing complicated. I’m looking for the best person to lead our offense.”

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound quarterback has started 53 regular season games in the NFL.

A 2008 second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins, Henne started 31 games for his first NFL franchise. He joined the Jaguars in 2012 through free agency and started 22 contests before being supplanted by Bortles in 2014.

Henne has thrown for 12,931 passing yards, 58 touchdowns and 63 interceptions during his career. 

Over the last two weeks, Henne has completed 11-of-16 passes for 183 passing yards and a touchdown in preseason action. 

Bortles has struggled to move the ball downfield throughout the preseason. He has also had an uneven training camp.

In two preseason games, Bortles has completed 11-of-18 passes for just 65 yards (4.5 yards per completion).

With Henne taking on the starting duties, Bortles is clearly facing a make-or-break game. Entering his fourth season, Bortles has won only 11 regular season games. 

The Jaguars picked up Bortles' fifth-year contract option in May. The final year is only guaranteed for injury but is worth roughly $19 million.

Bortles is set to make a fully guaranteed $3.23 million this season.

If Bortles fails to win the starting job, the Jaguars may be inclined to waive or trade him.

The Jaguars putting Bortles on waivers would be the most likely scenario of the two moves. If he were to be claimed off waivers, the Jaguars would be off the hook for his $6.57 million cap number this season and his guaranteed fifth contract year.

If he went unclaimed, the Jaguars would have $6.57 million in dead money on their salary cap, but would still relinquish the fifth year of Bortles' contract.

Trading Bortles would be tough. If he can't beat out Henne, it's hard to imagine teams dealing for the young quarterback with his fifth-year number being guaranteed for injury.

Bortles will receive time with the first-team offense and if he can bounce back from a lackluster start to the preseason, he may retain his post as the Jaguars' starting quarterback.

If he falters, Henne will probably receive an unconventional promotion to the top of the depth chart.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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