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First off the Field: Bowanko works limited; McClendon could start at center Friday


JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars got a bit healthier at center Tuesday.

Luke Bowanko, a reserve center who left last Thursday's preseason loss at Chicago with an ankle injury, returned to practice and did individual work Tuesday, the same day Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson is making enough progress to perhaps travel with the team to Friday's preseason game in Detroit.

Robinson has been out much of the offseason and training camp with a hamstring injury.

Bowanko's progress came during a two-hour, 30-minute practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields in which rookie quarterback Blake Bortles took some repetitions with the first team for a second consecutive day.

Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, is working as the team's backup quarterback, but he is expected to play about a quarter with the first team sometime after the first quarter Friday.

Bortles took seven repetitions with the first team Tuesday – three in a blitz period and four in a team session. He took similar repetitions with the first team Monday.

"I think the whole game speeds up, and I think he adjusted pretty well to it," Bradley said of Bortles following Tuesday's practice.

Bradley on Tuesday after practice also addressed the center position, saying the team would like to work Jacques McClendon, Mike Brewster and Bowanko there against the Lions Friday.

Brewster started at center the first two preseason games, but McClendon worked with the first team there at practice the last three days. Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch said before Tuesday's practice McClendon likely will start at center Friday.

"Jacques has played pretty good," Bradley said. "He's been playing consistent. We've challenged him to play at another level, a level he's capable of playing. We want to take a look at him in practice."

Bradley said the coaches planned to meet Tuesday to discuss starters and playing time for Friday night in detail. Bradley said the team also would like to look at Bowanko Friday, and "it depends how his health is."

Bowanko has not been ruled out for Friday.

Robinson, a second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft who is expected to play a key role when he returns to health, caught a few passes on the side early in practice and is not expected to play Friday. But Bradley said he may make the trip to Detroit.

"We'll probably take him on the road with us," Bradley said. "I think it's important for him to go through a routine, to go on the road, go through the warmup. I think he's progressing pretty well to go to that point."

Also on Wednesday:

*Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, tight end Marcedes Lewis, defensive tackle Roy Miller, linebacker Paul Posluszny and linebacker Geno Hayes had veterans days off of practice. Shorts said early Tuesday that he had had a good first two days of practice back after missing much of training camp with a hamstring injury. …

*Bradley said he expects linebacker Dekoda Watson likely will play against Chicago. Watson came off the Physically Unable to Perform list Sunday. Watson worked some with the Leo pass rushers Tuesday, Bradley said, but Bradley said Watson likely will play on first- and second-down as an Otto linebacker. ….

*Bradley said while some starters will play about three quarters in Friday's third preseason game, veteran front-line players such as middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and defensive end Chris Clemons likely won't play that much. The goal for the game is to get front-line players into as many regular-season combinations and situations as possible. "The substitution pattern we're looking for for a game – I think you'll see that," he said. "That's one of our objectives." …

*Bradley praised second-year cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Jeremy Harris, saying he feels a sense of confidence from each. He added of Harris, "I sense confidence from him and it's not fake confidence. It's really real. He had a good one-on-one session (Monday) and you can see his confidence grow." …

The Jaguars continue their preparation for Friday night's preseason matchup with the Detroit Lions.

*Starting right tackle Austin Pasztor underwent surgery on the right hand he fractured against Chicago last Friday. Bradley said the surgery went well. Bradley said he was provided no updated timetable, but had said last week Pasztor would be reevaluated in four weeks. …

*Wide receiver Lamaar Thomas (concussion) returned to practice, while wide receiver Tandon Doss (ankle), offensive lineman Josh Wells (shoulder), Pasztor, tight end Clay Harbor (calf), safety Craig Loston (hamstring) and safety Deion Belue (back) remained out. Cornerback Jamell Fleming missed practice with an Achilles injury.

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