Jags release starting QB Garrard

David Garrard lost his starting job the same way he got it: Just days before the season opener and in stunning fashion.

The Jacksonville Jaguars released Garrard on Tuesday, making a “pure football decision” that will save the franchise $9 million in 2011.

Whether it saves coach Jack Del Rio’s job remains to be seen. Team owner Wayne Weaver has said Jacksonville needs to make the playoffs for Del Rio to stick around for a 10th season.

Del Rio made it clear late last season that he had grown tired of Garrard’s inconsistent ways.

“He just couldn’t get it going,” said Del Rio, who added that the team didn’t try to trade Garrard. “I had met with him a couple of weeks ago and brought him in and said, ‘Hey, listen, you’re my guy. I need you to get it going.’ He was given every opportunity. He was somewhat apologetic that he wasn’t able to deliver.”

Del Rio turned the starting job over to Luke McCown, who outplayed Garrard and rookie Blaine Gabbert in the preseason.

“I was shocked by the decision,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “They obviously felt it was time to go in a different direction. Luke had a great camp, everyone knows that, and now he’s the guy. There’s no drop-off. We believe in Luke and we’re going to rally around him.”

The move was similar to what Del Rio did in 2007, when he released Byron Leftwich in favor of Garrard after the preseason finale.

Collins says he’s ready

Kerry Collins came out of retirement to win a Super Bowl, and he picked Indianapolis so he could work with one of the NFL’s greats and fill in, if needed.

He never imagined he would get the call in Week 1.

With Peyton Manning listed as doubtful for Sunday’s season opener at Houston, Collins insists he is ready to face the next daunting task in his 17th NFL season – replacing Manning as Colts quarterback.

“I know what it takes to prepare and be successful in this league, so I’m going to do all those things, rely on all the experience that I have,” Collins said. “I have a good idea of what I need to do to get ready to play and give a winning performance.”

Collins has made 177 career starts and been to two Pro Bowls. He took the Carolina Panthers to the 1996 NFC championship game and the New York Giants to the Super Bowl after the 2000 season. He helped Tennessee post the AFC’s best record (13-3) in 2008.

But now Collins finds himself in the toughest predicament of his career.

He has had less than two weeks to learn Indy’s pass-first offense, which has traditionally called plays at the line of scrimmage. He didn’t even play with Pro Bowlers Reggie Wayne or Dallas Clark in a preseason game.

Forte talks on hold

Contract talks between the Chicago Bears and running back Matt Forte are on hold.

Forte was looking for an extension as he headed into the fourth and final year on his rookie contract, but general manager Jerry Angelo said talks are most likely off until after the season.

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