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2015 minicamp: Offseason of progress for Bortles


JACKSONVILLE – All in all, all went pretty well.

In an individual sense, Blake Bortles wouldn't say he accomplished absolutely everything he wanted to achieve during the 2015 offseason. And from a team perspective, he said learning a new offense is unquestionably a process that takes time.

But as the 2015 offseason speeds to a close with this week's 2015 mandatory minicamp, the Jaguars' second-year quarterback on Wednesday said a lot got done in the past five months. Progress was made. That was the case not only for him, but the entire offense.

That absolutely made the offseason productive – even if it wasn't always easy.

"It's hard, because you want to be successful and you want it now," Bortles said Wednesday following the second practice of the Jaguars' three-day minicamp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. "But one thing (Head Coach) Gus (Bradley) is big on is, 'Get better each and every day,' so improve something, some aspect of your game and go out and get better each day.

"There are times when it's frustrating because you want to be good now, but that's not the goal. You want to be good in September."

Bortles on Wednesday was asked if he will do anything special to rest once minicamp ends Thursday.

"I think any time you're not practicing in 105 degree heat, that's rest," he said, laughing and referring to unseasonably warm mid-June temperatures this week.

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Bortles has improved noticeably in the short and intermediate areas, adding that the one area that could still improve is deep passing.

"One area we have to challenge him more is in the long part of his game," Bradley said. "But to back him up, we haven't done a lot of it in practice. When it's 110, how often can you send a guy on deep post routes to work on it? We need to find ways to do that and take care of our players. But we need to get to that level and help him gain confidence in that part."

Bortles, speaking to reporters for the final time before the five-plus week hiatus between minicamp and the opening of training camp, spoke extensively on Wednesday about the installation of the offense. That's a process that has been ongoing this offseason under Greg Olson, who took over as offensive coordinator in January.

Coaches introduced the offense to players twice in April and May, and then spent the three-week, nine-practice organized team activities that ended last week installing it on the field.

"You always think you can be better, but I think as an offense we've done well," Bortles said. "We had very few mental errors when we started off, and guys really kind of took advantage of learning this offense and running it.

"The only way you can get better is by going through those reps and doing it more and seeing how everything operates, and what goes together."

Bortles, after starting the final 13 games as a rookie last season, spent two months in California working on fundamentals and mechanics with a team led by quarterback guru Tom House. The spiral on his passes has appeared tighter at times this offseason, and he and Olson have said his takeaway before his throw has become quicker.

Bortles said last week he also is working on his follow through, and while it remains an area of focus, he said overall he continues to like his progress.

"I'm working on it, and I'll continue to work on it, but it's definitely getting better," Bortles said.

Bortles said he likely will spend a week in California working with House between now and training camp, but said he mostly will remain in Jacksonville. He said he and some Jaguars receivers may meet at Bishop Kenny High School to throw and catch during that time, something Bortles and several young receivers did last offseason before training camp.

"I'll watch and learn as much as I can," Bortles said. "I think (backup quarterback) Chad (Henne) will be here for most of the offseason, so we'll probably meet and do stuff together."

When that time ends, Bortles and the rest of the Jaguars will return for training camp. As they do, he will enter an NFL season as the starter for the first time. Entering last year's training camp, the play was for Henne to start and for Bortles not to play.

Bortles said the difference from last offseason is significant, and he said knowing he is the starter has meant a dramatically different mentality.

"It's allowed me to have a better grasp on things, a better understanding of how things work," Bortles said. "I know how things work. I know what to expect. I've kind of narrowed down what I need to work on and how I need to accomplish it."

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