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Hackett on QB Blake Bortles: 'Doing a great job'

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JACKSONVILLE – Nathaniel Hackett reiterated his season-long point Thursday.

"Blake's doing a great job," Hackett said as the Jaguars (10-4) prepared to play the San Francisco 49ers (4-10) at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

Blake Bortles, the Jaguars' starting quarterback, is the NFL's highest-rated quarterback in December with seven touchdown passes, 903 yards and no interceptions in three victories this month. The improvement has drawn notices from analysts and fans.

But Hackett, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, on Thursday said Bortles' improvement actually has been a general ascension rather than a three-week spike.

"I think has done a very good job," Hackett said. "Every quarterback in a 16-game season is going to have a couple of rough games. That's just how it goes. All the great ones, every single person, are going to have a miss here and there. He's done a lot of things to put us in positions to win games.

"As a quarterback, it's about being efficient. That's what I have asked him to do. That's what we as a staff have asked him to do. He's done a great job of that."

Bortles also has yet to miss a game this season. He is one of just four Jaguars offensive players to start Week 1 this season and not miss a start because of injury, with the others being tight end Marcedes Lewis, fullback Tommy Bohanon and left tackle Cam Robinson.

"He's been that one guy you can lean on," Hackett said. "He's been there every game. When you look at this whole season, he's been that consistent factor and that has been huge for us."

Hackett has said often this season that Bortles – like the rest of the Jaguars' offensive players – have had to adjust to a new system. While Hackett was offensive coordinator for the final nine games last season, he during that time ran mostly the system employed by previous offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

"I was really excited to let him train from Ground Zero and try to give him a whole new different look on things – and a different foundation," Hackett said of Bortles. "When you're younger or a new quarterback in a system, you have to start fresh. It doesn't matter who it is. You have to make sure they understand all the steps and all the processes, and keep on moving forward.

"He's just slowly maturing, and slowly getting better and better. Everybody wants things to happen overnight. We're obviously a society that wants things quick; everything takes time. The more reps the better. The more he works in the same system, the better he's going to get."

All three Jaguars coordinators – Hackett on offense, Todd Wash on defense and Joe DeCamillis on special teams – spoke to the media Thursday, as did rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

Notes and observations from Coordinator Thursday:

*Running back Leonard Fournette practiced full for a second consecutive day; he missed last Sunday's victory over Houston with a quadriceps injury after missing practice all week. "C'mon now," Fournette said when asked if he would play this week. "I've been practicing, so I'm playing this week." …

*Fournette, who has rushed for 923 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games this season, was asked on Thursday about not being named to the 2018 Pro Bowl. "I don't care about it, to be honest. I'm thinking bigger than that. I'm trying to win the Super Bowl, for myself and for this team. I'm not into all that." … 

*Other Jaguars players listed as practicing full with injuries Thursday were Bortles (right wrist), cornerback Jalen Ramsey (back), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (hamstring) and defensive back Peyton Thompson (foot). Running back Chris Ivory (back/elbow), center Brandon Linder (ankle/hand/knee) and wide receiver Allen Hurns (ankle) all worked limited a second consecutive day while tight end Marcedes Lewis (shoulder) worked limited Thursday after missing practice Wednesday. Wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) and wide receiver Larry Pinkard (concussion) missed practice for a second consecutive day and linebacker Lerentee McCray missed practice Thursday with a neck issue. …

*Wash discussed defensive tackle Malik Jackson, who was named to his first Pro Bowl Tuesday. Jackson has registered three sacks in the last three games, drawing praise in recent week from coaches for his play against the run. Wash said Jackson has changed his technique in two seasons since signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos. "It was a totally different style and technique," Wash said of Jackson's transition from a 3-4 defense to a Jaguars 4-3 scheme in which he plays three-technique tackle. "A lot of times you have to start from Ground Zero to try to break him of that, and obviously he resorted back at times out of habit. His technique and fundamentals have drastically improved as the year went on. You see the production in the run game. He's playing physical. He's playing stronger than he really is size wise and a lot of that is a credit to him and his technique." …

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