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Next day: Bortles to work with starters

Posted Aug 15, 2014

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley: Rookie QB Blake Bortles will work about a quarter with the first team Friday at Detroit, but veteran Chad Henne will start regular-season opener.


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles will work with the starters Friday.

But according to Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, that absolutely does not mean a change in the team’s short-term approach to its quarterback position.

Chad Henne, a seven-year veteran and the Jaguars’ starter in the first two preseason games, will start the team’s preseason game at Detroit Friday, and Bradley said Henne will start the regular-season opener at Philadelphia September 7 barring injury.

“The team has really responded to both of them really well,” Bradley said Friday, a day after the Jaguars’ 20-19 Preseason Week 2 loss to Chicago at Soldier Field in Chicago. “I just think where Chad is at and where our team is at it’s the best thing for us right now.”

Bradley added, “We feel so strongly about Chad right now.”

But the big news from the Bradley’s next-day press conference came when he discussed Bortles.

Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, has been impressive in two preseason games, completing 18 of 28 passes for 277 yards. That has spawned speculation that Bortles is pushing Henne for the starting job despite the team’s consistency saying otherwise.

Bradley on Friday said Bortles will work about a quarter with the first team Thursday, with Henne starting and playing about a half and Bortles playing after that.

“I’d like to see him get about a quarter this game,” Bradley said of Bortles.

At the same time, Bradley re-emphasized a point he has made for several weeks – that the Jaguars try to work many rookies with the first team. Bortles working with the first team against Detroit, Bradley said, is a function of that approach – not an indication of a quarterback change.

“Our whole philosophy is to get our rookies in with the ones,” Bradley said. “We have to get that done this week and see just how he (Bortles) handles it. … We do that with the majority of our guys, and I think it’s important we remain consistent, so you’ll see Blake with the ones.”

Bradley said while Bortles has been impressive, the team believes strongly that Henne is the best option to lead the team right now. Henne completed 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown in a little more than a quarter Friday after completing four of seven passes for 30 yards against Tampa Bay in the preseason opener.

“That was the Chad we’ve seen in OTAs and minicamp,” Bradley said of Henne’s performance Friday.

Bradley also added that the team believes strongly in Henne’s body of work and experience, and when he was asked directly if Henne was the Week 1 starter, he replied: “Yes.”

“There’s going to be some time we have to take a look at this and see the direction we’re going,” Bradley said, adding of a potential quarterback change, “Right now, that’s not even a question in our mind.”

Also around the Jaguars:

*Right tackle Austin Pasztor will miss at least the next month with a fractured hand sustained against Chicago. He will undergo surgery Tuesday and will be re-evaluated in about a month. Bradley said the injury is not season-ending. Fourth-year veteran Cameron Bradfield, who has started 25 games in three seasons, will start at right tackle in Pasztor’s absence. Bradley said Bradfield started camp playing “solid,” and has improved in the last week or so. “We’ll definitely have to bring in other guys to help (for depth) in that situation, but we feel confident in him (Bradfield),” Bradley said. “The good news is we don’t expect him (Pasztor) to be out for the season.”  Rookie offensive tackle Josh Wells also sustained a shoulder injury against the Bears. …

*Bradley on Friday said it appears likely rookie Brandon Linder will start at either center or right guard, which in turn could dictate who starts at the other position. If Linder starts at center, Bradley said it’s likely veteran Jacques McClendon will start at right guard. If Linder starts at right guard, Bradley said it’s likely veteran Mike Brewster will start at center. Brewster and McClendon have started at center and right guard, respectively, in the first two preseason games. Bradley on Friday said Brewster improved from Week 1 to Week 2, but Bradley and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch have said in the past two weeks that the team is looking for the right combination of those three players at the spot. …

*Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III is expected to return to practice Sunday, as is linebacker Dekoda Watson. Shorts has been out with a hamstring injury since the first day of training camp and Watson spent training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a groin injury. Bradley said the idea is to play Shorts and Watson Friday against Detroit, though they may get limited repetitions. …

*Rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson may make the trip to Detroit, but Bradley said he isn’t likely to play. He has been out since early in training camp with a hamstring injury. “We’re hoping for that fourth preseason game (against Atlanta on August 28), but we’ll see,” Bradley said. …

*Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (biceps) is expected to practice Sunday. …

*Safety Craig Loston sustained a hamstring injury against the Bears. …

*Fullback Bradie Ewing sustained a season-ending wrist injury against the Bears, and a roster move will take place in the coming days. …

*Bradley said again that “foolish penalties” were a huge issue against Chicago, and something the team must eliminate. The Jaguars were penalized 14 times for 141 yards Friday. “The ones that are under our control, we have to take care of,” Bradley said. …

*The Jaguars averaged 3.1 yards per carry against the Bears Friday, but Bradley said the area felt improved from Week 1. “We had some explosive runs in there,” Bradley said.

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