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2015 OTAs: Bortles, offense catching on quickly


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JACKSONVILLE – Greg Olson likes what he sees so far.

That's true of the entire Jaguars' offense, and most notably to Olson, it's definitely true of second-year quarterback Blake Bortles.

Olson, in his first season as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, has said more than once since taking over the position that Bortles is the key to what the team will do offensively. He said that will be the case next season, and it's the case now as the team installs the offense.

Olson on Tuesday said a key part of that process is ensuring the players are comfortable with the system, and he said on that front Bortles has adapted quickly.

"We're always as a coaching staff trying to be player friendly," Olson said Tuesday on Day Five of Jaguars 2015 Organized Team Activities, which are ongoing at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.

"We say, 'Let's not ask them to do something they can't do.' Most importantly, we've said, 'Let's make sure it's something that Blake can execute. Let's start with Blake. Let's not ask him to do too little or too much and let's understand the concepts he's familiar with, the concepts he's comfortable with.' It's all got to tie in together.

"He's been great. I've got no problem with Blake Bortles and where he is mentally."

Olson said overall he has been struck by the players' ability to pick up the offense quickly.

"We've had very few mental errors," Olson said. "Physically, we may not be doing the things we need to do, but we've had very few mental errors, which is surprising to me. I thought we would have more mental errors, but we have a very intelligent team across the board."

The Jaguars introduced the offense to players in Phases 1 and 2 of the offseason program, and are in the process of on-field introduction during OTAs.

"I think they've picked it up pretty well," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Tuesday, adding that quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett this week spoke about Bortles' increasing comfort level in the offense,. "He said (Monday) in his conversation with him, Blake was talking about, 'You know what, it's starting to come. I'm really starting to get a handle.'

"So what's that? That's practice OTA number five, so he's starting to feel more comfortable, but we're not completely done with the install yet on the field."

Said Olson, "We're close. The way Gus has set up the OTAs we work on a different situation each day. (Tuesday) was no-huddle, two-minute and (Thursday) will be short-yardage and heavy grouping, and heavy formations. We'll be installing throughout the OTAs. That's the way it is set up, but they've been exposed to a lot of the things we want to do through Phase 1 and Phase 2.

"They've seen it on paper. They just haven't had a chance to go out and execute it on the field."

Olson, speaking publicly for the first time during 2015 OTAs, also said he likes the work Bortles – the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft – has done on his fundamentals.

"He's done a great job of cleaning up his mechanics," Olson said.

Bortles, who started 13 games as a rookie, worked extensively between the end of last season and the start of the offseason program on shortening his throwing motion and other footwork issues. The result has been a tighter spiral and a quicker release.

"In technical terms, on his takeaway he was dropping the ball down very low," Olson said. "He has cleaned that part of it, and now he's working on another aspect of his throwing motion, so we're excited to see that. He's very hard on himself and he's also critical of himself, but he recognized what needs to be fixed and he's able to do that. A lot of guys aren't able to do that."

Olson said Bortles' emphasis fundamentally now is on his follow-through – the release of the ball, and the consistency of how it comes off his hand – and that overall he is impressed with Bortles' approach on the field and off.

"He's a hard worker, a self-starter, a self-motivated player," Olson said. "He's a young player who wants to get better. He's been in early every day and stays late. He's one of the first guys in and one of the last guys to leave, so I'm excited."

Also on Tuesday:

Take a look at images from the Jaguars fifth day of OTAs held on Tuesday, June 2.

*Offensive tackle Sam Young missed practice with a foot issue, and running back Storm Johnson was out with tightness in his back.

*Defensive end Chris Clemons continued as the lone uninjured Jaguars player not participating in OTAs in some capacity, and players not practicing because of injuries included defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (knee), defensive tackles Roy Miller (knee) and Sen'Derrick Marks (knee), wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee), tight end Clay Harbor (calf), wide receiver Bryan Walters (hamstring). Defensive ends Jared Odrick (back) and Andre Branch (knee) worked Tuesday after being out Monday.

*Olson on having veterans Marcedes Lewis and Julius Thomas at tight end: "It's a good matchup issue for us. Julius obviously is more of a route-runner-type guy. Marcedes is a good route runner, but also is an extremely good run-blocker, so I think they'll complement each other well." …

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