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2015 OTAs: Bortles' progress continues


JACKSONVILLE – Another OTA, another quarterback story.

If it seems Jaguars 2015 Organized Team Activities at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields sometimes have been more about daily Blake Bortles updates than anything else, there's some truth to that.

Here's what's true, too:

While Bortles, the Jaguars' second-year starting quarterback, continues the high-profile, public process of reshaping and honing his fundamentals, he said he is as pleased with his progress as possible as the offseason program approaches its end.

He also said the process will continue after the offseason program ends.

"It's hard to compare this year and last year," Bortles said. "There's definitely a different mindset. I've had a year in the NFL. I think I've learned some. I have a lot more to learn – and obviously still have a lot more to do physically as well."

Not that every week or every day is part of a steady upward trend for Bortles. The process is a daily one, and Bortles said Tuesday he struggled in practice Monday. What Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said was as significant as Monday's struggles was that Bortles improved Tuesday.

"He came back," Bradley said. "I heard him in to the huddle talking to players, and really, it was a challenge to the whole offense to come back."

Said Bortles: "It's going to happen. It's part of it. Gus talks about having to face adversity and uncomfortable situations in order to have great growth. That was definitely adversity and uncomfortable, because it wasn't good."

Of Tuesday, Bortles said, "I still don't think it's as good as we need to be, or as good as we're going to be come September, but it was definitely a step in the right direction."

Bortles, who spent two months after the 2014 season and before the 2015 offseason program working in California with a group associated with quarterback/throwing guru Tom House, said he plans to spend a week with House's group between the end of minicamp and the beginning of training camp in late July.

"I think he's huge," Bortles said of House. "He's a guy who's extremely bright and he has a really good eye for seeing stuff like that. He can watch you do it and break it down. Something that's pretty cool is he and Oley (Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson) are on the same page on a lot of stuff and speaking the same language."

The Jaguars' three-day mandatory minicamp is scheduled June 16-18 and marks the end of the '15 offseason program.

Bortles early in the offseason focused on shortening his throwing motion and his pre-delivery "takeaway," and while that remains a focus, he also now is focused on his follow through. He said he's working to make sure his ball is leaving off his "pointer finger" and that he moving his thumb downward on delivery.

"I was throwing it like a baseball sometimes," Bortles said.

That caused his passes to wobble at times, and Bortles said he's trying to catch himself and improve that area. He said it now occurs less in individual periods now and more in team periods when there is more about which to think.

"It's hard when you try to change stuff like that," he said. "It's something I've been doing since I was 12 years old. It's something you have to think about. Right now, I'm in the stage of doing it as much as possible so I don't have to think about it."

Bortles, speaking to the media as a group for the first time since the first week of OTAs last month, said he likes his overall progress.

"I'm good with it," he said with a smile. "It seems like you guys (the media) like it, so that's what I'm looking for. I have to continue to work on it and continue to improve, but it's definitely night and day from this time last year."

Bortles, too, said overall he is pleased with not only the progress of his fundamentals, but with the process of installing and learning the offense being installed by Olson.

"It was kind of impressive the first couple of OTAs to see how few mental errors there were," Bortles said. "I know Oley talked about how with guys implementing a new offense and trying to learn it the lack of mental errors has been pretty impressive. I think we've gotten better every single day."

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