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Mike Mularkey: Blaine Gabbert is our starter, we feel good about him

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 24: Karl Klug #97 of the Tennessee Titans sacks quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during play at LP Field on December 24, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans won 23-17. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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It would be easy for Mike Mularkey, as a new head coach inheriting a returning starter at quarterback who looked lousy last year, to be skeptical of his quarterback’s ability to lead the team. But in Jacksonville, where Blaine Gabbert is returning as the starter in a new offense, Mularkey insists he’s confident in what he has.

According to Mularkey, Chad Henne was signed strictly as a backup and does not have the opportunity to earn the starting job in training camp. Instead, Mularkey told Albert Breer of NFL Network, the job belongs to Gabbert, period.

No, it’s not [a competition]. Blaine’s our starting quarterback,” Mularkey said.

Gabbert struggled as a rookie starter last season, completing just 50.8 percent of his passes and having a 65.4 passer rating while getting sacked 40 times. He was widely criticized as a first-year failure, but Mularkey says Gabbert responded well to those criticisms.

“I give him credit for handling the negativity -- I haven’t seen it affect him,” Mularkey said. “It’d be easy to go into a shell, worry about perception. He has a lot of confidence and he doesn’t let outside sources influence that. That’s hard to do in this business, especially now with all this Facebook and Twitter. There’s so much more pressure on him, but he’s been good. I’m a big body-language reader, and on the practice field, the cafeteria, in the meetings, he has a confidence about him. We feel good about him.”