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Five takeaways: Caldwell hope for Blackmon return fades


JACKSONVILLE – Notes and takeaways from Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell's meeting with local writers at EverBank Field Tuesday. ..

1)Justin Blackmon's outlook with Jaguars dimmer than ever. Caldwell spoke with local writers on the first off day of 2015 training camp, and a topic was Justin Blackmon. To hear Caldwell Tuesday, the chances of the wide receiver playing again for the Jaguars are slim, although he did not completely rule it out. Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, has been suspended indefinitely under the NFL's substance-abuse program since midway through the 2013 season. "I have not heard anything, and I guess I harbor a little bit of hope," Caldwell said, "but realistically when you're away from the game for two-and-a-half years what you were once is probably not what you will be. Your skills do erode, especially if you're not staying in tip-top shape and you're not in football shape."

2)Liking Bortles' process …Caldwell said he likes the result of quarterback Blake Bortles' offseason work – and also liked how the second-year quarterback approached the offseason, communicating with team officials and coaches throughout the process. "He ran a lot of stuff through (Jaguars Head Coach) Gus (Bradley)," Caldwell said. "I give him a lot of credit. He took the bull by the horns and he's done a nice job." Caldwell said the communication was key, and that Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson has a relationship with Jordan Palmer, on whom Bortles leans heavily in the offseason. "As long as the communication is there, that's a key part," Caldwell said, adding that he was unsurprised by the level of Bortles' desire to improve: "When you invest in someone that high in the draft (No. 3 overall in 2014), you're pretty sure they have that. All of our research on Blake on that is always positive."

3)… and the progress.Caldwell said the difference in Bortles from this time last year is significant, saying there is a "night-and-day" difference in mechanics, footwork and fundamentals. "From the day he stepped on the practice field to the first day of training camp this year, his ease of throwing motion, the tightness of the ball, the compactness of motion, the quick release, the footwork, the balance – all of those things are better … then just the overall presence," Caldwell said. "He's comfortable now. This time last year, he was probably still trying to find a place to live." While Bortles dealt with shoulder and foot issues as a rookie, Caldwell said the Jaguars never considered resting him late in the season. Caldwell said Jaguars strength and conditioning coach Tom Myslinski charted Bortles' throws to monitor the shoulder situation. "We were cautious about it," Caldwell said.

4)Jaguars will remain in the community.Caldwell said while it was disappointing that rain canceled the scheduled practice at Mandarin High School Monday, the team likely will continue to hold a practice at an area high school during future training camps. "We'd like to," Caldwell said. "We said let's brainstorm. Nights in August you're gambling and you're probably going to lose with rain and lightning. Let's find another way. Maybe in the future it's a Sunday afternoon depending on how schedules work out – or maybe it's midweek when we can get out to a school." Caldwell said as much as practicing at a high school is about "expanding the team's footprint," it's also about trying to give back and assist local high schools and football programs.

5)Caldwell likes this roster.We'll have more details and quotes on later, but Caldwell likes a lot about the depth and talent level of this roster. He mentioned wide receiver, offensive line and cornerback as being deep, saying "There are going to be guys we cut that go play somewhere else. Caldwell said. "That was our goal, to have a position battle at every spot." Caldwell also spoke highly of wide receiver Allen Robinson and the depth at running back, mentioning that Denard Robinson still has a high ceiling and that running back Toby Gerhart has looked particularly good in training camp. He also said the Jaguars liked second-round running back T.J. Yeldon throughout the draft process, rating him around the same level as first-round backs Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley. Another highlight: he likes the potential of second-year wide receiver Marqise Lee and he doesn't consider Lee injury-prone. "He could very well be beyond that right now," Caldwell said of Lee, who missed three games with a hamstring injury last season before missing on-field work this past offseason with a knee injury. "He's doing a really good job. He's playing fast and running fast. … I wouldn't say if a player got injured during OTAs or minicamp that they're injury-prone. … I'm not ready to give him that label yet."

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