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 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -The Jacksonville Jaguars are parting ways with quarterback Byron Leftwich after four frustrating, injury-filled seasons.
Coach Jack Del Rio said the team plans to trade or release the former first-round draft pick. Del Rio also named mobile backup David Garrard his starter heading into next week's season opener, believing Garrard gives the team a better chance to win.
Garrard outplayed Leftwich in the preseason, completing 36 of 47 passes for 456 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score. But his numbers came primarily against second-team defenses.
Leftwich, who missed 10 games last season because of an ankle injury, was 19-of-38 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games. He misfired on several passes, badly overthrew Dennis Northcutt on two deep routes against Green Bay and continued to show messy mechanics with his feet and throwing motion.
Making the decision easier, Leftwich hasn't played a full season since being the seventh overall selection in the 2003 draft. But the former Marshall star felt he was in the best shape of his life following ankle surgery and a rigid offseason conditioning program.
Del Rio seemed to agree, naming Leftwich his starter in February and backing him every day since - until now.
Leftwich was in the final year of his contract, so releasing him would not cost the team anything extra against the salary cap in 2007.
But it would leave the Jags with little room for injury at that position. Third-string Quinn Gray, who played well in the preseason finale after missing most of camp because of a sprained ankle, will move into the No. 2 spot.
Leftwich has completed nearly 59 percent of his passes for 9,042 yards, with 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. He started 13 games as a rookie, then missed two games in 2004 with an injured left knee.
He missed five games the following year because of his oft-injured left ankle. He returned to the starting lineup in the playoffs, but played poorly in a loss.
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