JACKSONVILLE – So far, so good.
That has been the consensus lately around the Jaguars when discussing quarterback Blake Bortles, and it remained that way during offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s final 2018 offseason media availability Wednesday.
“Blake’s on the right track,” Hackett said Wednesday shortly before the second practice of ‘18 Jaguars Veteran Mandatory Minicamp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex.
Hackett, in his second season as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator, covered multiple topics Wednesday during a 15-minute meeting with media, including the minicamp performance of second-year running back Leonard Fournette.
Fournette, who rushed for 1,040 yards as a rookie, reported to minicamp around 224 pounds – about 10 pounds lighter than he played last season. Fournette on Tuesday said he felt a burst at the lighter weight, and Hackett on Wednesday agreed.
“He was moving really well [Tuesday],’’ Hackett said of Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft who missed the last two weeks of the Jaguars’ voluntary organized team activities after attending the first week last month. “There’s always this fine line of where you want to be and how you can hold that weight, and I think he’s still kind of trying to figure that out.
“We just want him to be able to play with the most confidence and as ready as he can be.”
Hackett on Wednesday was expansive when it came to the offseason of Bortles, who throughout OTAs and early in minicamp has appeared more comfortable in the offense and more accurate than in past offseasons.
Hackett on Wednesday said he was pleased with the fifth-year veteran’s offseason work. The Jaguars’ on-field portion of the offseason will end with the final minicamp practice Thursday.
“I think you’re always going to want more from Blake,” Hackett said. “I mean, he’s the quarterback and you’re always going to want to push him more. But his ability to understand what we’re trying to do is just increasing dramatically. Just the other day, a play we called for a specific front … all of a sudden he gets something different and checks completely out of it.
“Those are the things you want to keep pushing him on: ‘Hey, this is why we want this play.’ All of a sudden it’s not a great look … OK, let’s do something else. The more you put him in those situations and he starts adjusting, it’s really good do see.”
Hackett said such grasp of the offense will allow Bortles to play instinctively, something Hackett believes is critical to Bortles playing at a high level.
“Now, he can go out and play and it’s not a panic mode,” Hackett said. “It’s not, ‘Oh, gosh, where are they coming from?’ It’s trying to dissect it. It’s not about learning a new play. It’s about, ‘How can I make this play better?’
“Those are the good things about where Blake’s going, but you’re always going to want more from him. He’s the quarterback of an NFL football team. You’re always going to want to push him and always try to find ways to get him better.”
Hackett on Wednesday also said new additions such as free-agent tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, rookie second-round wide receiver D.J. Chark and free-agent wide receiver Donte Moncrief have adapted to the offense well in the offseason.
“Up to this point, everybody we’ve brought in – they’ve really fit well,” Hackett said. “They have great personalities, very good work ethics. We did a good job last year with the guys who are here of establishing how we want to practice, how we want to work. …
“The great thing from a coaching standpoint is it’s not necessarily the coaches saying, ‘Hey, go faster … hey, do this.’ It’s the players pushing it, because they understand what it did to put us in position to get far in the playoffs last year.”