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Bortles, Bradley: Talkin' ball


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles and Gus Bradley were about charity Monday.

But with April upon them, the Jaguars' quarterback and head coach also had football and the offseason on their mind, and they left no doubt:

That excitement around the Jaguars' offseason?

They share it, and Bortles said he's particularly excited about what the team did last month during the early wave of 2016 unrestricted free agency.

While the Jaguars added several front-line defensive free agents in March, Bortles' focus when speaking following THE PLAYERS Championship's 17th Hole Charity Challenge at TPC Sawgrass Monday was on offensive additions: left tackle Kelvin Beachum and running back Chris Ivory.

"I think both of them are huge," Bortles said during some of his first public comments since shortly before the Super Bowl in early February. "They're two great additions. Gus and [General Manager] Dave [Caldwell] and [Owner] Shad [Khan] are doing a great job of putting the right pieces in place for us, so it's an exciting time."

The Jaguars' official offseason program, which runs through the team's mandatory three-day minicamp June 14-16, is scheduled to begin April 18. The 2016 NFL Draft will be held April 28-30.

"We're really excited about or players coming back," Bradley said. "That will happen in a couple of weeks. We'll get back to work with them and keep adding some very good players to some very good players. … It's an exciting time; things are going to go in a hurry. We're looking forward to where we are and where we're drafting."

Beachum, who started at left tackle for Pittsburgh until sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 6, is expected to compete with Luke Joeckel at left tackle in training camp. Ivory, a 1,000-yard rusher for the New York Jets in 2015, likely will share time with second-year veteran T.J. Yeldon.

"Kelvin obviously is a really good player who can definitely help us out," Bortles said. "I'm excited to work with him and see what he has coming off an injury. We're excited to get him back healthy."

Bortles added of Ivory, "He runs violently. He gets after it and goes downhill."

Also on Monday:

*Bortles said he has worked this offseason with the team's skill-position players, adding that every wide receiver has been at the team's facility at some point during the offseason. "It has been really cool," Bortles said. "A-Rob [Allen Robinson] and [Allen] Hurns are here. Rashad Greene's here. Bryan Walters was here. Rasheed Bailey, Arrelious Benn … everybody has been in. It's been cool to see those guys stay here, to see them work together and talk through some offseason things as well." Bortles said he just missed tight end Julius Thomas when the two were in California. "We've stayed in contact and we're looking forward to us getting to work in April," Bortles said. …

*Bortles discussed his relationship with the three quarterbacks who potentially could be first-round selections in this month's draft. He shares an agent with Jared Goff of California and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State, and Bortles' college offensive coordinator – Charlie Taafe – is working with Paxton Lynch of Memphis. Bortles said he has spoken to all three players this offseason. "They're all unbelievable dudes," Bortles said. "They're going to be unbelievable players … It's hard to step into a locker room as a 21-22-year old kid and try to play quarterback in the NFL. You have to be able to build relationship and definitely be confident within yourself." …

*Asked if it was odd that he was the No. 3 overall selection in the draft just two years ago, Bortles replied, "It's kind of crazy. It feels like it was a decade ago. It's a special moment and a once-in-a-lifetime deal. These guys are living out their lifelong dreams of getting an opportunity to get drafted – and even if they don't, an opportunity to go play in the NFL. It's an exciting time for those guys." …

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