Jaguars open OTAs with Bortles as backup
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars' current and future quarterbacks took the field together for the first time Tuesday for the team's first of 10 offseason practice sessions.
Incumbent Chad Henne and rookie Blake Bortles took the majority of snaps in Tuesday's OTA, with Henne working strictly with the No. 1 unit, Bortles directing the second team. Bortles was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 draft, but Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said at that time Henne would continue as the starter.
Henne started 13 games in 2013, completing 305 of 503 passes (60.6 percent) for 3,241 yards and 13 touchdowns. But he also threw 14 interceptions, had a 76.5 passer rating and led the Jaguars to just four wins.
Even with Bortles coming in as a first-round pick, Henne said he feels like this is his team this year.
''Definitely with them saying I'm the starter this year and gravitating and becoming more of a leader on this offense and team. I definitely feel that way,'' Henne said.
The seventh-year pro has his shortcomings to improve on during the 10 days of OTAs.
''I just want to be consistent with my footwork and my drops and it will only better me with my accuracy on the field and getting the ball where it needs to be,'' he said. ''Other than that, it's just demanding more out of myself and demanding more out of myself to be a leader on this team in that regard.''
While Henne wants to improve on his performance from a year ago, he'll also be mentoring the team's quarterback of the future. Bortles declared for the draft following his junior season at Central Florida where he compiled a 22-5 record as a starter. He passed for 7,598 yards and 56 touchdowns compared to just 19 interceptions.
His biggest win may have been his final game when he was voted MVP of the Fiesta Bowl in a win over Baylor, throwing for 301 yards and three touchdowns.
After his first practice with the rest of the Jaguars veterans, Bortles said the pace was much quicker than previous workouts with Jacksonville.
''It was awesome to go out there and get a sense of everyone's speed and athleticism,'' he said. ''Definitely much faster than rookie minicamp, but it was a lot of fun. Up tempo, energetic.''
Bortles said he continues to learn from Henne.
''A lot. He's helped me out tremendously. From meetings in the morning, to me and him in the quarterback room, to watching him on the field and him giving me little tips.''
The first-day showing by the two Jaguars quarterbacks was well received by Jaguars coach Gus Bradley. He especially liked the way Henne was throwing.
''I told him that it appeared to me he was throwing with confidence, and he said, `I'm not there yet; I'm getting closer but I'm not where I want to be,''' Bradley said. ''It feels to me like he's just got a better command of the offense.
''I think with Blake you're seeing the ups and downs. We're seeing more good from where he was to where he is now. He's making progress. I love that part that he's so competitive. I think once he gets to a comfort level where he understands the offense, I think things will settle down for him.''
All but one member of the Jaguars' 90-man roster participated in the voluntary practice. Veteran defensive end Chris Clemons was tending to personal family business, but Bradley said he was hopeful Clemons would be joining the practices soon. Several other players were withheld from action due to previous injuries.
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