Jaguars' Bortles hones mechanics, drops weight in offseason
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) By the end of last year, Blake Bortles' arm was tired - worn down by months of NFL draft preparation, countless practices and then the grind of his rookie season.
He noticed something else about his body, too.
''I was kind of fat,'' Bortles said Tuesday as the team began its offseason conditioning program.
The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback has taken steps to fix both issues.
Bortles spent more than two months in California working on his mechanics - mostly footwork - with quarterback guru Tom House and NFL journeyman Jordan Palmer.
''There was a lot to do,'' Bortles said. ''Once you start playing, things kind of start to deteriorate. It's hard to work on things and play at the same time. This was an opportunity to go focus and solely just pay attention to that stuff. You didn't have to worry about running a 40 (yard dash) or training for a shuttle or any of that stuff, so it was good to be able to focus on footwork and some mechanics and stuff.''
The main thing Bortles wanted to accomplish was to take ''stress'' off his arm by generating power with his legs and torqueing his body more.
''My arm kind of deteriorated during the season,'' he said. ''It didn't affect anything. It was just, I think, a product of throwing for two years straight without any break. Going from summer 7-on-7 to a whole college season to getting ready for the combine to pro day and then coming right into camp and throwing all season long, so it definitely got tired. Took some time off, let it heal and then sought out some proper mechanics on how to make it never hurt again.''
All that work paid dividends on the scale, too.
Bortles has dropped 12 pounds - he checked in at 238 on Tuesday - and went from 17 percent body fat to 10 percent.
How it translates to the field remains to be seen. After all, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft completed just 59 percent of his passes last season for 2,908 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also was sacked 55 times.
The Jaguars - and Bortles - expect significant strides in his second season.
''He really feels good,'' coach Gus Bradley said. ''He feels really good about his offseason, and that's a good sign. Don't deter from that, don't take away from that. Let's add to that. He's not there yet, but I think he has a clearer view or clearer feel of what it should be like. I think now when he goes out and does a routine, he has a very set structured routine that he truly believes in.
''I think last year, at times, he was trying to figure that out. That's one example. He feels more confident, he always has confidence, but I think he's even more confident in what he can bring.''
Jacksonville has done plenty to surround Bortles with more talent.
All of them will join Bortles in learning a new scheme under offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who replaced fired assistant Jedd Fisch.
''It's all the same stuff,'' Bortles said. ''Everybody runs the same stuff. Some people call it apples. Some people call it oranges. So you've just got to learn the language. I think it's kind of like, I guess you could say you know the words, you know the dictionary, now you've just got to figure out how to put sentences together. It'll be fun. I'm excited to learn it, and from the little bit I've looked at this morning, it looks really good.''
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