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Blake Bortles: "More ready to do everything"


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles likes his offseason thus far.

"It's good," he said Tuesday. "It's continuing to go."

That has been the quarterback's perspective throughout 2016 Jaguars Organized Team Activities, and his position coach gave his perspective Tuesday. Nathaniel Hackett's thoughts?

He couldn't agree more that while the third-year veteran still must progress to reach his potential, the 2016 offseason thus far has been productive for Bortles.

And there's no doubt Bortles has shown enormous offseason strides.

"He's more ready to do everything," Hackett, in his second season as the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach, said following OTA Day Eight practice Tuesday at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. "You're going from Year One to Two; it's night and day.

"I think everything is, 'How many ways can you stimulate him and how many ways can you push him every day?' ''

Hackett, speaking to the media for the first time in 2016 OTAs, addressed several quarterbacks-related issues Tuesday including the possibility of Bortles and the Jaguars' offense running more hurry-up, no-huddle series next season.

"Anytime that you use the hurry-up, it's always fun," Hackett said. "It's always exciting. It puts pressure on the defense and it's always good for a young quarterback to have to do that kind of stuff – to have to react to changes, react to situations and think faster. So anytime you can simulate that, it's always good."

Hackett also talked extensively about the difference in Bortles' grasp of the offense this offseason compared to last. The Jaguars in 2016 will be running offensive coordinator Greg Olson's offense for a second consecutive season, and Hackett said Bortles' knowledge of the offense has increased in expected fashion.

"Even the questions that he asks are way more advanced than they were last year," Hackett said. "Just the things he wants to know, the checks he wants to be able to make, the protection calls he wants to make … everything is much more exciting because it allows you to push him a little bit harder but at the same time bring him back to his original fundamentals."

Hackett, who spent 2013-2014 as the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator, said that knowledge of the offense – and the ability to use that knowledge – could be the biggest difference between this season and last season for Bortles.

"Last year it was a lot more of you would call a play and it was like, 'Oh, what am I doing?' '' Hackett said. "I think now it's that play, but that play within the defense and why we wanted to call it, why Coach Olson put it in and what Coach Olson was looking for. So I think that's where his advancement has gone now.

"When a play comes in, he's way more knowledgeable on why that play was called and what we're trying to accomplish. I think that's where you want to get as a quarterback advances in his career."

Also on Tuesday:

*Bortles discussed wide receiver Marqise Lee, a third-year veteran who followed an impressive practice Monday with another impressive session Tuesday: "I think just staying healthy has been the biggest part for him. He's had kind of a rough time over the past couple of years. He's just staying on the field. Everybody knows how talented he is; you've just got to keep him on the field. He's done a good job, he's taken care of his body more, he's doing better. He's figured it out. So hopefully he can stay healthy and continue to grow and get better."…

*Hackett discussed rookie quarterback Brandon Allen, a sixth-round selection who has shown impressive arm strength thus far in OTAs: "He's wonderful. He's a coach's kid, which is always good. He's an intelligent guy. He's a natural thrower. He's a pleasure to have in the room right now." …

*Hackett said of backup quarterback Chad Henne, who signed a two-year extension early this offseason: "Chad's the best. He's another coach out there. At the same time, he's a great player. He's a great guy to be around." …

*Bortles discussed the four-year contract extension signed late last week by third-year wide receiver Allen Hurns: "From Day One when we showed up here it was like, 'Hey, there is no way this guy was undrafted.' He's a special guy. He's a special football player for sure, but he's a special human being. He's definitely one of a kind in his (work) ethic and mentality and the kind of person that he is. He's a pleasure to be around every day and he's a great teammate, so he definitely deserves everything they gave him." …

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