JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the day that was around EverBank Field Thursday – with an eye on offensive coordinator Nathan Hackett's belief in quarterback Blake Bortles
BELIEF IN BORTLES
Nathaniel Hackett's belief in quarterback Blake Bortles remains strong.
If anything was clear listening to the Jaguars' offensive coordinator when he met the media on Thursday morning, it was that.
Hackett, now in his seventh week as the Jaguars' coordinator, said he likes a lot about the much-scrutinized, oft-criticized third-year veteran. As much as anything else, Hackett on Thursday talked about Bortles' resiliency.
"He's one of those guys: he just loves the game; he comes back for more," Hackett said of Bortles as the Jaguars (2-11) prepared to play the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (7-6) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Hackett specifically was referring to Bortles' on-field toughness.
Bortles was the NFL's most-sacked quarterback in his first two seasons, being sacked 55 times in 2014 and 51 last season. That number has improved dramatically this season with the Jaguars allowing just 28 sacks, but Bortles was sacked four times by Minnesota last Sunday.
Despite that pressure, Bortles completed 23 of 37 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown and did not throw an interception for the third time this season.
"That's a credit to Blake – the beatings that he's taken throughout these three years have been unbelievable [and] he still comes back for more and it doesn't affect him," Hackett said. "You're like, 'Wow, I'd be beat up.' … That's a credit to him – that I just think he wants to keep on going, keep on getting better."
Hackett talked Thursday about being encouraged in the last month and a half by the progress of a slew of young offensive players – and said as a young quarterback still in his third season it's important for Bortles to "just keep working, don't press it too much."
"Blake's personality is he wants it so bad and he wants to represent the Jags and he just wants to be the best," Hackett said. "You have to, at the same time, hold him back and say, 'Look, it's not all just you. There's 10 other guys out there, you have to make good decisions.'''
BACK AT IT
Defensive tackle Abry Jones (knee) and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (neck/shoulder) worked full Thursday after practicing limited Wednesday. They were the only two changes on the Jaguars' Thursday injury report.
Wide receiver Allen Hurns (hamstring), running back Denard Robinson (ankle) and offensive guard Chris Reed (toe) all missed practice a second consecutive day Thursday.
Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee) practiced limited a second consecutive day Thursday, as did tight end Ben Koyack (knee), wide receiver Arrelious Benn (shoulder), wide receiver Marqise Lee (finger), strong safety Johnathan Cyprien (shoulder), safety Peyton Thompson (ankle) and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (ankle).
Bortles (right shoulder) and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (shoulder) practiced full Thursday for a second consecutive day.
NOT QUITE ONE ON ONE
The Jalen Ramsey-DeAndre Hopkins matchup might not have a real one-on-one feel this time around. Whereas Ramsey – the Jaguars' rookie cornerback – shadowed the Texans receiver during much of the team's November meeting at EverBank Field, Jaguars coordinator Todd Wash said that may not be the case Sunday – though not by the Jaguars' choice. Wash said the Texans are moving Hopkins around in the offense – including putting Hopkins in the slot – with the idea of making it tougher for opposing cornerbacks to take him out of the offense. "They're moving him a little bit more, putting him in different spots," Wash said of Hopkins, who caught five passes for 48 yards in the teams' first meeting. "He's not always outside. It's going to be tough to match Jalen consistently with him. They're doing a really nice job of moving him. … I'm sure they're going to try to get him in the slot and move him around a little bit instead of putting him on the outside where we can get our hands on him. We have to be able to adjust during the game."
"When he is out there, he's a factor on some plays. Depending on the teams we play, depending on who they put on the field, that's really how much he plays. When he is out there he's making some nice plays and he's doing his job. He takes some reads away from the quarterback with his zone coverage drops. He's doing a nice job of understanding what we want out of the Otto position."
--Wash on rookie Otto linebacker Myles Jack
"It's a Sam [strong-side] linebacker with an Otto name. That's all it is, to be honest with you. Everybody goes, 'Sam backer …' Well, we have a Sam backer. It's called the Otto. It's the same thing we called the Sam in Seattle. We just call it the Otto here."