JACKSONVILLE – He made his EverBank Field debut Saturday, and the debut was good.
That was the quick-take view for Blake Bortles after the Jaguars' "mock game" in front of an estimated 20,000 at EverBank Saturday, with the rookie quarterback playing in a Jaguars uniform for the first time.
The performance won't count in the standings, not even the preseason standings.
But for starters …
Well, for Bortles – who worked with the second team while starter Chad Henne worked with the first team – it wasn't a bad start at all.
"It was awesome," Bortles said after the Jaguars worked in a mock-game format for about an hour in an open-to-the-public event that capped the first full week of 2014 Training Camp.
"There was a good crowd and they were loud. We had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it. It was the first close-to-a-game atmosphere. We went through a simulation pre-game, so it was cool to go through that, and get a feeling for what it's kind of going to be like. It was a lot of fun."
With the format for the event controlled to create situations for evaluation, official statistics weren't kept, but Bortles unofficially completed 9 of 13 passes for 79 yards and also had touchdown passes in a goal-line situation to tight end D.J. Tialavea and wide receiver Chad Bumphis.
Bortles, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, was particularly effective on his second drive, completing passes of 26, 15 and 15 yards and also throwing a deep pass that drew a 32-yard pass interference penalty.
"He's starting to get it," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said.
Henne, who has worked with the starters throughout training camp and who is expected to start this season, unofficially completed 14 of 22 passes for 75 yards. Bradley said he was pleased with the play of both quarterbacks, saying specifically that Bortles has good command of the offense.
"He has really good poise back there," Bradley said.
Bradley said Henne was particularly strong early, completing five of six passes for 39 yards on the game's first drive.
"Chad came out and was really precise," Bradley said. "That's what we've seen in the OTAs and training camp – a really good command of the offense. I thought even the ones that were incomplete were some drops. We're just going to keep going back to work. He's not there yet but he has done a nice job."
Kicker Josh Scobee converted field goals of 54, 27 and 36 yards and reserve kicker Kasey Redfern converted from 51 and 20 yards. Rookie running back Storm Johnson led off the night with a 109-yard kickoff return that may or may not have been a touchdown in a real game, and Johnson also scored on a 1-yard touchdown in goal-line drills.
The Jaguars during the mock game were without several injured players, including wide receivers Cecil Shorts III (hamstring), Tandon Doss (ankle) and Allen Robinson (hamstring). All are expected to be out for an extended period, as is tight end Clay Harbor (calf).
Rookie guard Brandon Linder, who is day-to-day with a foot injury, missed the mock game, as did linebacker J.T. Thomas.
The Jaguars hosted their annual scrimmage in front of a large crowd at Everbank Field on Saturday night.
GERHART NOT WORRIED
Jaguars starting running back Toby Gerhart missed the mock game after sitting out practice on Friday. Bradley and Gerhart each said Gerhart was held out because of tightness in his leg.
Gerhart, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason, said he believes he will practice on Monday and that he was held out for precautionary reasons.
"I feel like I've gotten a good amount of work in so far, getting a grasp of the offense," Gerhart said. "It was a bummer not to be out there today."
Talked with Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart after mock game. Called his situation "general leg tightness" and said he would have played in a game. — John Oehser (@JohnOehser) August 3, 2014
Cornerback Alan Ball (ankle) and linebacker Dekoda Watson (sports hernia) remain on the physically unable to perform list, with cornerback Aaron Colvin (knee) remaining on the non-football injury list. Also out were Shorts, Doss, Robinson, Harbor, Linder, Thomas and Gerhart.
"I thought Chad came out right away and is really good and really smart – good decision-making, quick decision-making. Those were good signs. Blake, too, had really good poise back there. That's why I stood back there just to see how he handled himself. He showed really good signs of growing."
--- Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley
"I felt like offensively we got a good tempo out there and got stuff accomplished tonight. All the young guys are coming along and stepping up to the challenge. If we keep building those guys up and creating depth, we'll get where we want to be."
--- Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne
"It was cool to get out there and go through getting play-calls from the headset from (offensive coordinator) Jedd (Fisch) on the sidelines, being on the field with no coaches. It was cool to go through game situations."
--- Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles
*Bradley on the development of the run offense: "I saw some movement off the ball, especially in the red zone. I'm sure we'll look at those things and see. But that's what's the preseason is about."
*Bradley on second-year linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, who had a late interception in the end zone in short-yardage/goal-line work: "He had a nice play in the end zone, perfect position. … I think he has a real comfort level. Way farther than he was last year, just poised on the field. He knows his responsibilities. Now it's about execution, so that pick in the end zone is a good sign for him." …
PLAY OF THE DAY
*It's always tough in a mock game to know what would have counted and what wouldn't have in a game situation, but a play Bortles made early stood out Saturday. With the Jaguars running a drill with the offense coming out from deep in its territory, Bortles threw a 20-yard, over-the-shoulder pass to second-year veteran Mike Brown. Bortles dropped the pass into Brown where one he could catch it, which he did for a 26-yard gain to the 28-yrd line. Bradley called it a "beautiful throw," and while Bortles said there was some back-and-forth at the line, the play came on a play called from the sidelines by offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. "We ended up running the play Jedd called," Bortles said.
*With Linder out, Jacques McClendon started at right guard and Reynolds started with Watson out at the Otto linebacker position. Jordan Todman started at running back in place of Gerhart, and Demetrius McCray started at corner with Ball remaining out. …
*Wide receiver Kenny Shaw, signed as a free agent Saturday, was in uniform and wearing No. 4. Newly-signed linebacker Josh Hull will wear No. 49 and defensive end David Carter – also signed Saturday – will wear No. 77. …
*Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks was active much of the night, making a stop on an end run by running back Denard Robinson and stopping Johnson on a goal-line run. …
*Defensive end Andre Branch defensed two passes in two-minute period late in the game, and defensive end Gerald Rivers also had a pass deflected. …
*Safety Joe Young broke up a deep pass down the middle of the field into the end zone from Bortles.