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'15 offseason: A leaner, focused Blake Bortles


JACKSONVILLE -- Blake Bortles feels better. A lot better.

That's the result of an extensive two months of offseason work, two months that were a significant topic when the second-year quarterback spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon at the start of the Jaguars' 2015 voluntary offseason program.

Bortles entered the offseason wanting to work on a lot of things. Fundamentals. Footwork. Delivery. He wanted to improve pretty much everywhere.

So far, so good.

"I felt really good about it," Bortles said shortly after noon Tuesday at EverBank Field.

Bortles said he worked on more than mechanics in recent months, weighing in Tuesday at 238 pounds after weighing as much as 250 at the end of his rookie season. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley when speaking to the media on Tuesday said, "Blake looks really good."

"Blake's dropped some weight and looks leaner," he said.

Bortles put it more succinctly;

"When I left here, I was kind of fat," he said, smiling.

Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, spent a little more than two months in California from January through March working with throwing/mechanics guru Tom House and former NFL backup Jordan Palmer, the latter of whom Bortles trusts and worked with last offseason leading to the draft .

He worked with House at the University of Southern California for five days early in the offseason, and then after that worked with House three days a week and Palmer the other two.

"There's a mold of how to correctly get your body to work together and throw the football, and everybody's got to adapt that mold to themselves and their throwing styles," Bortles said.

Bradley said he got a good feeling from Bortles about the progress the young quarterback made in the last three months.

"He really feels good," Bradley said. "That was my conversation with (quarterbacks coach) Nathaniel (Hackett) and (offensive coordinator) Greg (Olson), '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.

"He feels more confident. He always has confidence, but I think he's even more confident in what he can bring."

Bortles said the past three months were significantly different from last offseason when he spent time focusing on NFL Combine- and Pro Day-oriented workouts while preparing for the NFL Draft.

"It was good to be able to focus on footwork and mechanics and stuff," Bortles said.

Bortles said he worked with House and Palmer primarily because couldn't work with Olson or Hackett. NFL rules prohibit coaches from coaching players or talking football from the end of the season until the beginning of the offseason program.

"Oley's (Olson) a great mind when it comes to quarterbacks and mechanics, but I couldn't go up and talk to him and ask him about it," Bortles said.

Bortles and the rest of the Jaguars' offensive players attending the offseason program received their playbooks from Olson Tuesday, which Bortles said was "like Christmas."

"It's a new toy," Bortles said. "It's something we haven't seen before. It's exciting to be able to see what we're going to do and what we're going to be able to play with."

The Jaguars parted ways with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch following last season, hiring Olson, Hackett, assistant head coach-offense/offensive line Doug Marrone and running backs coach Kelly Skipper. For Bortles, that means a new offense for a second time in as many NFL seasons.

"It's all the same stuff," Bortles said. "Everybody runs the same stuff. Some people call it, 'Apples;' some people call it, 'Oranges.' You just have to learn the language. You know the words in the dictionary. Now, you just have to put sentences together. It will be fun."

Bortles also spent four days late March in California throwing with Jaguars receivers and skill-position players. The group also has worked together at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville the last several weeks.

In addition to footwork, Bortles said he worked with House to tighten mechanics and improve throwing motion. He said his arm felt fatigued at the end of last season, and while he didn't believe it affected his play, it was an area he wanted to address.

"A point of emphasis was how do I take stress off my arm and use my whole body to generate power from the ground through my legs, creating torque and all of that stuff," Bortles said.

Bortles said the arm fatigue likely was a product of essentially throwing for two years without an adequate break.

"It definitely got tired," Bortles said. "I took some time off, let it heal, then went and sought out some proper mechanics on how to make it not hurt again."

Bortles said he could see during the season improvements that needed to be made, but working on mechanics and fixing problems is difficult while preparing for games.

"You're watching film and you're like, 'Gosh, that doesn't look good,' but there's not time to fix it," Bortles said. "They're changes that I made that allow me to throw the ball more effortlessly and try to do it without putting so much stress on my arm. I think that's helped out a lot.

"It's evident when you're watching and know what you're looking at; you can see it."

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