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Fisch: Jaguars QB Blake Bortles out of boot


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles is out of his boot.

That's a step in the right direction in terms of the Jaguars' rookie quarterback playing Thursday, which Jedd Fisch believes Bortles will do.

Fisch, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, said while Bortles did not participate in the team's light work on Monday evening, he is preparing as if Bortles will play and start against the Tennessee Titans Thursday.

"As far as I know, it's going to be Blake," Fisch said Tuesday as the Jaguars (2-12) prepared to play the Titans (2-12) at EverBank Field Thursday at 8:25 p.m.

"We're going to obviously see how he practices. He did not participate (Monday), so we'll have to see how he does today, then see how it looks today and tomorrow.

"The plan right now is to see how he feels."

Bortles, the Jaguars' starter in the last 11 games, sustained a mid-foot sprain in the fourth quarter of a 20-12 loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday. He wore a protective boot after the game Sunday and again Monday.

Fisch said the short week – and Bortles' growing knowledge of the offense after three months as a starter – will mean the team won't have to alter preparation.

"It's a Thursday game," Fisch said. "With the way the week of preparation works, you don't have much anyway in regards to live throwing. Yesterday was a walkthrough and tomorrow's the day before the game. Based on that, and right now he's 11 games in – I think he's pretty comfortable in terms of what we're going to ask him to do.

"Then, we'll make the evaluation based on how he does the next couple of days."

Fisch said the short week necessitated the Jaguars focusing more on what they do well offensively as opposed to trying to game plan specifically for the opponent.

"It's very similar to a training-camp mentality when you bring a team into your place when you do those cross practices," Fisch said. "It's, 'We don't know what you run, but we're going to run our stuff. You don't know what we run, but we're going to run our stuff and … let's go play ball.'

"In a short week there's not a ton of time to do a ton of preparation."

Fisch on Monday also addressed the team's eight sacks allowed against the Ravens, reiterating a point made by Bortles Sunday and Head Coach Gus Bradley Monday that Bortles needs to improve his decision-making in terms of when to throw the ball away and avoid sacks.

"I look at them and say, 'Why didn't we throw the ball?' sometimes," Fisch said. "I look at it and say, 'What happened on that play? What caused it?' We shouldn't take a sack in quick game. That's against company policy. We shouldn't take a sack on screens. … That's the type of stuff we need to work with.

"As I've always said, sacks are on all 11."

As Bradley and backup Chad Henne said Monday, Fisch said a major challenge facing Bortles is learning when to try to escape the pocket and make a play and when to throw the ball away.

"It's third-and-6 and he scrambles and hits Allen Hurns for a 27-yard gain, so you look at that and say, 'Pretty cool that I was just able to do that … I'll just do that every third down,'" Fisch said. "The next time you try to spin out of it, there's (Ravens defensive end Terrell) Suggs waiting on you.

"It's that muscle memory of learning and understanding that might have happened once and it's cool, but there are going to be times when you cut your losses. I think it's very challenging for a rookie quarterback."

Fisch also discussed how the rookie might approach the offseason that begins in 12 days.

Fisch said the period between the end of the season and the beginning of the official offseason program in mid-April will be critical – and that Bortles needs to use that time to study the Jaguars' offense and prepare for the beginning of the offseason.

Fisch said he and Bortles will sit down before the end of the season, and once Fisch gets a feel for Bortles' schedule, the two can work out a plan for offseason study.

"Speeding up the decision-making will come from knowledge," he said. "This offseason has to be a constant quest for knowledge. When we're not together for those 'X' amount of months we're not allowed to see one another he has to make sure he is studying, studying, studying our offense – so that when we can meet, we can start talking about defenses.

"If we have to start over and talk about our offense for those next three months, then the decision-making process won't get sped up because we'll go back to not being able to focus in on the little tips and reminders defenses can give us. That's where his focus needs to be.

"If he does that and owns it, now we can do a great job giving him indications that will help him play fast."

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