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Open Locker Room: Quarterback Blake Bortles ready for first-team repetitions

Posted Aug 19, 2014

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles on getting first-team repetitions in preseason game at Detroit Friday: “I think it will be cool.”

JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles is ready for his close-up.

At the very least, the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback is ready for his one-quarter, preseason version of his first NFL close-up anyway.

Bortles, the Jaguars’ backup quarterback, will work with the first-team offense in game action for the first time on Friday. And even though the action is expected to come in the second quarter of a preseason game, it’s still significant action for a rookie learning the NFL.

“I think it will be cool,” Bortles said Tuesday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Detroit Lions in the third game of the 2014 NFL preseason at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, Friday at 7:30 p.m.

“I think it’s just another opportunity to go out there and try to show what I’ve been trying to work on and improve on. I have to try to take a step forward and try to be better.”

Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, has been impressive in two preseason appearances, completing 18 of 28 passes for 277 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I don’t think I went in with any preconceived notions on where he was going to be,” Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. “Obviously, we were excited to draft him and we’re still excited with how he has progressed. I think it’s a situation right now where each day we’re looking for improvement and he has challenged himself to get better every day.

“I’m not exactly sure where I expected him to be, so he’s doing well for where he’s at.”

Bortles, after completing seven of 11 passes for 117 yards in the preseason opener against Tampa Bay, completed 11 of 17 passes for 160 yards against Chicago last Thursday.

“I thought footwork was a little cleaner,” Bortles said. “There were still some things I have to work on and clean up, I thought. It was a little better.”

Fisch said Bortles’ knowledge of the offense improved from Week 1 to Week 2 of the preseason, enabling him to play faster.

“He can make some corrections on the fly,” Fisch said. “He can make some adjustments.”

Fisch noted that Bortles was able to audible to a play on the left side that produced a 29-yard gain to wide receiver Kerry Taylor against Chicago.

“He saw it was a loaded box, and decided he was going to check,” Fisch said. “I think that shows a guy with great confidence. That part of it’s fun, but it just has to continue to build and learn. He’s throwing the ball with a little more velocity as well, maybe using his lower body better, so that’s pretty cool.”

Fisch said Bortles also audibled to a pass to Taylor later that produced a first down, calling the two plays “indications of how he’s playing and what’s to come.”

“We just have to continue to watch his development as he continues to work against better competition,” Fisch said.

The Jaguars’ plan remains to start seven-year veteran Chad Henne at quarterback to start the regular season and beyond, but Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley also believes in getting rookies – particularly drafted rookies – time with the first-team in preseason and practice.

Bortles, who did not take repetitions with the first team in the team’s on-field offseason work or early in training camp, took his first first-team repetitions in practice Monday. He took about seven-to-eight snaps with the first team – including three snaps in 11-on-11 works – and Fisch said he likely will take about that many Tuesday.

“It’s a little bit faster,” Bortles said. “That’s why the ones are the ones. It’s a good opportunity to go out and get that exposure. We’re calling the same plays and running the same stuff, it’s just guys are a little faster, so you have to adjust to that and get some exposure to that.

“It was cool and it was a good opportunity to have that.”

Bortles said while his snaps were limited Monday he could see a difference.

“It’s something you have to get acclimated to,” he said. “It will come with reps and time.”


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