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Jaguars 2018 Training Camp: Better day on offense

Jacksonville Jaguars' Blake Bortles throws during NFL football practice in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

EAGAN, Minn. – Blake Bortles wouldn't say the day was perfect.

What the Jaguars quarterback did say about Thursday's work against the Minnesota Vikings was that improvement was made – and that mattered.

"Today was definitely better than it was yesterday," Bortles said.

Bortles spoke in the wake of the Jaguars' second practice in as many days against the defending NFC North Champion Vikings, with the teams working for about two-and-a-half hours late Thursday afternoon despite threatening weather in the area.

Lightning moved the teams into the indoor facility at the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center early in practice. The teams finished outdoors under cloudy skies in intermittent rain.

Bortles on Thursday called the two days "good" work because of the quality of the Vikings' defense, which ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total yards allowed last season.

"To come up here and to get to go against somebody else is good, especially when it is a team like this and a defense like the one they have that does some good stuff," he said.

Bortles talked about the chance to work against the Vikings' "Double-A" defense, so named for the A-gap linebacker blitzes often employed in Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's schemes.

"They are kind of the originators of the Double-A, so to get some work on that against a good defense like themselves – and to get some live reps – is always good," Bortles said, adding that there are similarities between the Vikings' defense and a Jaguars defense that ranked second in the NFL in yards allowed last season.

"We have had some practice with some of the things they showed us, and then they showed some new things that we need to go figure out, come back and try to pick up the next time," Bortles said. "They got a bunch of good pressures and coverages off of different things. It is constantly a challenge and a test to make sure we are on point and everybody is on the same page. It is a good defense."

For Bortles and the offense, Thursday indeed was better than Wednesday.

Bortles started the day indoors with two passes that barely missed wide receiver Keelan Cole deep, then hit wide receiver Marqise Lee on a crossing route and wide receiver Dede Westbrook on a deep pass in the outdoor portion.

Backup quarterback Cody Kessler found rookie wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. with a deep pass, and Kessler also completed a deep pass to wide receiver Jaydon Mickens.

"We didn't practice the way we wanted to yesterday as an offense," Bortles said "There were some ups and downs, but there was way too much inconsistency as far as what we expect out of ourselves. There still was today to an extent. … We have some stuff we have to fix and work on, and we will continue to coach and grind on those things."

Bortles, who during camp mostly has looked more confident, poised and accurate than in his first four NFL training camps, said the offense overall continues to feel improved in its second season under coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

"Everyone is more comfortable with the scheme and with the plays with the exception of a couple of new guys," he said. "I think it allows us to push further and harder and do more and ask and expect more of each other as well."

Bortles added, "I think we are on the right track. We have a lot of room and a lot of stuff to fix and improvements to make, no doubt about that. I think we are headed in the right direction and each week is kind of a stepping stone towards that goal of being ready to go Week 1 against New York. We are on track to be ready to go then, and we still have a lot of work to do."

Bortles also Thursday was asked if he was concerned about comments by Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey published in GQ this week, with Ramsey praising some NFL quarterbacks and criticizing others.

"No," he said. "Jalen has plenty of talent to back it all up, so I look forward to watching him do that."

Bortles smiled when asked if he was concerned about Ramsey providing "bulletin-board" material for other teams.

"A lot of stuff has been said about me and it never affected me," Bortles said. "I imagine most of the guys that were mentioned in some of that stuff probably brushed it off. If they took it to heart or whatever, they probably have bigger problems than that."

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