JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five Monday takeaways as the Jaguars prepare to play the Washington Redskins Thursday in the 2015 preseason finale …
1)Waiting on the Tiger.We begin Monday takeaways with Greg Olson, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator who spoke memorable words Monday when discussing Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee. Olson, in his first season, admitted he had little working knowledge of Lee, who missed the offseason program with a knee injury and has practiced just three times since the beginning of training camp because of a hamstring issue. "To me, he's like the albino tiger at the zoo," Olson said of Lee, a second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft who caught 37 passes for 422 yards and a touchdown as a rookie last season. "If you get there and you're lucky enough to get him to come out of the cave and see him, it's a good day. I've only seen him three times since I've been here and those three days he was very impressive, but he's only been out three days so we're hoping that we can get him healthy and see a little bit more of him."
2)Managing reps.Lee hasn't practiced since leaving practice August 5 with a hamstring injury. Considering his offseason absence, it's perhaps expected that Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said it's necessary to try to figure the best way to keep Lee healthy. "We have to learn from these and say, 'When we bring him back, how do we bring him back in order to maximize it to where he's fully confident?'" Bradley said. "There was a period of time last year where he had multiple games put together and he did very well. I think we understand him a little bit better and we bring him back that way." Bradley said the Jaguars may limit Lee's practice repetitions, perhaps having him work two plays with a play off – and so on. "We understand him a little bit better now as much as we can and how to bring him back," Bradley said. "He's very valuable. He has a tremendous asset. He has skills that we don't have on this team, so we've just got to work with it."
3)Priority One.Bradley has made no secret he wants the offense to be effective running this season. While Olson said he wants that, too, it's still no huge surprise that the passing offense has been more productive than the running offense through three preseason games. Olson said Monday the offseason priority was to help second-year quarterback Blake Bortles develop. "As an offensive staff we felt like there's so much timing involved with the passing game," Olson said. "There's so much more involved in the passing game in terms of protection and blitz pickups and things you're doing. Certainly for Blake's development, that was a big priority for us. We'll make a huge commitment to running the football, but during this time for this part of the process – for Blake's development – it was more about getting comfortable with the passing game."
Take a look at images as the Jaguars prepare for their final preseason game at Washington.
4)Keeping it fresh.Bortles doesn't sound like a player worried about arm fatigue. While he said earlier in the preseason that was an issue at times last season, he said on Monday his arm feels like "night and day" from this time last preseason. Bortles said the primary difference is he got far more rest following his rookie season than he did following his final season at the University of Central Florida. Asked if he did as much throwing this offseason while working on fundamentals/mechanics/footwork as he did in the pre-draft process, he replied, "No way. Not even close." Whereas Bortles – like most draft-eligible quarterbacks – essentially threw non-stop from the offseason before his final college season through the end of his rookie season, he said he took about three and a half weeks off at the beginning of this offseason then monitored his routine and throwing carefully after that.
5)Still searching.The starting offensive line is set, with Luke Joeckel at left tackle, Zane Beadles at left guard, Stefen Wisniewski at center, Brandon Linder at right guard and Jermey Parnell at tackle. The backups are less certain, particularly at tackle. Sam Young has been an effective backup there in the past, so he's an option. Former starting right tackle Austin Pasztor also is a factor and Luke Bowanko – who competed with Wisniewski at center through the first two preseason games – has worked at tackle the last week and a half. That likely will be a focus Thursday in Washington. "We'll take a look at some guys there and just put the whole picture there and look at all reps, how guys are performing and things like that," Bradley said. "I think we have somebody in house, yes. Who it is? We just need to determine that." Bradley said while Bowanko has worked more at center and guard, he could work at tackle Thursday at Washington. "If there would be a game where we would put him in that situation it would be this week," Bradley said.