It’s a step that must happen, after all, and Preseason Week 3 is as good a time as any for rookie quarterback
Henne, the Jaguars’ seven-year veteran starting quarterback, met with the media early Monday afternoon – and hardly unexpectedly, the progress of Bortles and the team’s approach to the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft was a significant topic.
Also unsurprisingly, Henne was supportive on all fronts.
“He definitely needs that opportunity,” Henne said as the Jaguars prepared to play the Detroit Lions in the third game of the 2014 NFL preseason at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., Friday at 7:30 p.m. “You never know what’s going to happen in the season, whether I go down or I’m not playing well and he needs to step in …
“It’s a good test and getting some work with the ones is definitely beneficial.”
Henne said Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley spoke to him about Bortles’ repetitions.
“Gus talked to me about it and he wanted to make sure I was fine with it,” Henne said. “I said, ‘Absolutely.’ Blake needs to see what it’s like with the ones and feel that tempo. He needs to get some good time with the offensive line, where he’s going to set up and where he’s going to throw the football.”
Bortles, who has been impressive in two preseason games, is expected to get first-team repetitions with the Jaguars’ offense in practice Monday afternoon. Those would be the first such repetitions since Bortles was drafted in early May.
Bortles also is expected to get about a quarter with the first team on Friday against Detroit, and Henne said there can be a significant difference between first-team and second-team preseason repetitions.
“The speed’s a little different,” Henne said. “The twos don’t really run a lot of different defenses. They don’t show a lot. The ones are more confident and understand the scheme, so they can disguise a little more and you have better players in those positions. It’s definitely a little different.”
Henne, who re-signed with the Jaguars as a free agent early last offseason, started 19 games over the past two seasons, and has worked with the Jaguars’ starters throughout the offseason. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears on Thursday after completing four of seven passes for 30 yards against the Buccaneers in the preseason opener.
“The confidence from the coaches and getting those reps each and every day has really been beneficial,” Henne said.
Bradley has said throughout the offseason and training camp that the team feels strongly about Henne, and that Henne absolutely will start the regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles September 7.
Bradley has reiterated the stance that Henne will start the past several days, and has stressed that the plan to play Bortles with the first team is in keeping with the team’s overall approach to get rookies repetitions and experience with the first team.
Henne, asked if he and Bortles ever spoke about the quarterback situation, replied, “Not at all.”
“We’re just out there trying to help each other out each and every day,” Henne said. “The biggest thing is to help a guy along. I just try to help him with the film work and to know where to go with the football. He’s done a great job. We’re both humble and that’s what’s great about this situation.”