JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Wednesday that was as the Jaguars continue preparing for Sunday's Preseason Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field …
Tough preseason test
The offense's longest preseason appearance could be its toughest.
Quarterback Blake Bortles and the Jaguars' first-team offense are expected to play into the third quarter in their Preseason Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday. That would be by far the unit's most-extended preseason action.
The group has played well in two preseason games, playing efficiently and minimizing mistakes. Duplicating that Sunday will be a challenge.
"You couldn't really ask for a better group to go against," Bortles said as the Jaguars prepared to play host to the Bengals in a Preseason Week 3 game at EverBank Field Sunday at 8 p.m.
The Jaguars' first-team offense has scored three touchdowns and a field goal on five preseason possessions. The lone non-scoring possession came Saturday against Tampa Bay when penalties forced the offense to start its first possession 1st-and-15 at the Jaguars 6. Bortles has completed 14 of 18 preseason passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
The Bengals are considered one of the NFL's most talented rosters, and have made five consecutive playoff appearances.
"It's the players they have, but also the scheme they have and what they do," Bortles said. "They do a lot of stuff and throw a lot of things in there. It's a chance to test what we've been doing – physically and mentally, really."
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley on Wednesday confirmed that the plan is to play the starting offense and defense into the third quarter Sunday. NFL teams often use the third preseason game as a dress rehearsal, so it's common for teams to play starters into the second half to get used to making halftime adjustments.
Sunday could be the last preseason action for Bortles and the first team before the September 11 regular-season opener against Green Bay at EverBank Field. Teams rarely play a large number of starters in Preseason Week 4.
"I don't know if you can ever say you're ready," Bortles said. "It starts September 11 whether we're ready or not. Cincinnati's a good opponent to go into this with."
Practice images from Thursday, August 24.
LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING
As often is the case, Bortles left the media smiling after his weekly press availability Wednesday. When asked what the rapidly improving Allen Robinson could do to impress him, Bortles said of the third-year wide receiver, "I don't know … chop his hands off?"
Later in the press conference, Bortles said of the University of Central Florida honoring former Head Coach George O'Leary with a statue: "I think it's awesome. They should make it bigger probably."
Bortles, who played for O'Leary at Central Florida from 2011-2013, was asked about the Blake Bortles Statue.
"I think that one's in the bathroom," he said, laughing.
Longtime NFL and college head coach Lou Holtz visited Jaguars practice Wednesday. "He addressed the team," Bradley said. "It was great to have somebody who has done so much for the game of football and so much for the game of football, so much for players and coaches and the league and college. So it was great to have him there." Bradley said Holtz's words were brief. "It was just about a lot of things in life are simple: 'Let's not make this game complicated …" and when you do that, you have a chance the best," Bradley said.
BACK AT IT
Cornerback Prince Amukamara practiced Wednesday after a personal day off Tuesday following the birth of his son.
Defensive tackle Abry Jones (quad) worked early in practice after missing Tuesday and safety Peyton Thompson (concussion) was cleared for full contact after being limited in the concussion protocol Tuesday.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee and running back T.J. Yeldon both missed practice Wednesday after practicing Tuesday. Both players had planned days off.
Other Jaguars players out of practice Wednesday: safety James Sample (shoulder), offensive tackle Jeff Linkenbach (concussion protocol), offensive tackle Josh Wells (thumb), defensive tackle Sheldon Day (back) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (quad).
Offensive lineman Luke Bowanko (hip) and defensive end Jonathan Woodard (Achilles) remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
"He's not scared to put his face on people and that's something that's important to us. We want to be known as a physical defense – not just our front seven, but our back guys also."
---Jaguars Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash on rookie CB Jalen Ramsey
NOTABLE I …
Wash on Wednesday also discussed the strides made in recent weeks by defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, who showed good quickness and suddenness during a stretch in the second quarter against the Buccaneers Saturday. Marks, who led the Jaguars with 8.5 sacks in2014, sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the final game that season and a torn triceps limited him to four games after his Week 5 return last season. "As you guys have seen out at practice he wasn't moving as well as he has in the past" early in camp, Wash said. "We definitely had some one-on-one meetings and challenged him. The way he played the other night we were very encouraged about it."
… AND ALSO NOTABLE
The Bengals may be the Jaguars' best preseason opponent and Bradley said that's particularly evident along the offensive and defensive fronts. "They're very stout upfront defensively so it presents a lot of different challenges than we've faced," Bradley said, adding that the Bengals' offensive line will be the best the Jaguars have faced this preseason. "It's a great challenge for us."