The Jacksonville Jaguars are set to start quarterback Jake Luton when they face the Houston Texans in Week 9, head coach Doug Marrone announced Monday. This decision comes in the aftermath of the revelation that starting quarterback Gardner Minshew has multiple injuries in his right thumb, which Marrone noted will make him inactive for Sunday's matchup.
Luton was selected in the sixth round of the 2020 draft by the Jaguars out of Oregon State. During his final collegiate season, the 24-year-old threw 28 touchdowns and just three interceptions for the Beavers. Of course, because there was no preseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Luton has yet to see live action in an NFL game, which will certainly be a challenge for both the young quarterback and Marrone.
"We'll figure out what we're going to get," the coach told reporters via videoconference on Monday. "I think we'll see. Everything's a risk, so why not? ... We'll see how he plays against a live rush. We know how he plays without a live rush. He's done some good things. I'm sure there will be some things he wants to take back. You just hope the good plays are good and the bad things don't kill you.
"I think Jake has a high ceiling. That's my opinion of him. Not to take anything away from Mike. I have a ton of respect for him. I just want to see where this kid (Luton) is at. ... I've watched him enough. Now, it's going to be when the bullets are flying."
With Minshew on the shelf and Luton starting under center, veteran Mike Glennon will serve as the Jaguars backup quarterback for Week 9, but Marrone stressed that both signal-callers need to prepare as if they'll play against the Texans.
"Both guys have to be ready; I've told both players they have to be ready," Marrone said. "But I feel like I've seen a lot of Mike; I haven't seen a lot of Jake. I'm going to go with Jake taking the reps and see how he does."
As for Minshew, X-rays done on his hand after the Chargers game in Week 7 revealed that he is dealing with multiple fractures and a strained ligament in that right thumb. The second-year quarterback had reportedly been dealing with this injury since mid-October but did not disclose it to the team until after Jacksonville's loss to Los Angeles.
"When Gardner came in, I just talked to him. I said, 'I can understand," Marrone said. "One, when you're injured you need to report it; you have to report it.' I said, 'Two, it's not like I don't understand the competitiveness in you where you want to continue to play. But you've got to make smart decisions and decisions that are best for the team.'
"That was it, so I don't think I'm going to get involved – at least from my standpoint – of any disciplinary measure, but of just trying to learn and make sure the players understand that if you are injured it can hurt the team and it can hurt ourself. Even though we appreciate the competitiveness you all have that it's in your best interest to make sure you report it and this way we don't put someone out there that's not really 100 percent."
Marrone also didn't ensure that Minshew will have his starting spot upon getting back to full strength. Because of their 1-6 record, he noted that they'll continue to evaluate what they have at the position, and if Luton plays well, he could secure the spot for the rest of the season.