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Notes and observations: Day 18

Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon runs up field during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser’s notes and observations from Tuesday’s Day 18 of Jaguars 2018 Training Camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex …

1.He’s lighter, quicker and just as strong – and Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon is seeing the benefits. The fourth-year running back drew praise from Head Coach Doug Marrone this week, who said Yeldon is playing as well as he has played since the Jaguars selected him in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft from the University of Alabama. Yeldon said he focused in the offseason on dropping weight from 223-to-225 pounds last season to 218. “I feel better, lighter, quicker, faster, more explosive,” he said. “I feel like it makes a big difference. I can cut better. I can do a lot of things better. I feel more comfortable.” Yeldon is expected to play a key role as a third-down back and backup behind running back Leonard Fournette, and he also got extensive work in the base offense in a preseason victory over Minnesota Saturday. “I’m comfortable with the role they have me playing,” said Yeldon, who rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries and caught five passes for 73 yards against Minnesota. “We’ll see when the season comes what more of a role I’ll play.” One of Yeldon’s bigger plays against Minnesota Saturday: an 11-yard screen pass on a play on which he and Fournette were both in the lineup. “You never know what kind of play we’re going to call,” Yeldon said. “It just gives us another threat.” …

2.Carson Tinker won’t say he’s satisfied, but he is happy to have made it back. Tinker, the Jaguars’ long snapper, missed last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in training camp. He has been the Jaguars’ lone long snapper since they waived Andrew East in early August, and he handled the duties in the first two preseason games. “I feel good physically; I’m still trying to get some of my swag back mentally out there,” he said. “We’re two games in. I’ve improved each game and I’m looking forward to this game.” Tinker said the length of the rehabilitation process was perhaps the toughest part of the last year, adding, “Coming into training camp, I had a lot of demons to knock out. This camp will do it to you. It’s a tough camp. I’m proud with how I’ve competed and battled.” While Tinker appeared to have re-earned the long-snapping role he held from 2013-2016, he said, “I still want to be the best in the NFL. That’s been my goal. This injury was a setback, but that’s still my goal. I want to be the best snapper out there, no doubt about it.” Tinker and nose tackle Abry Jones, both of whom signed as undrafted free agents following the 2013 NFL Draft, are the Jaguars’ longest-tenured players. …

3.The Jaguars have worked this training camp and preseason to get Fournette more involved as a three-down running back, with a major focus on third downs. “That’s what we’re working on,” Marrone. “He seems to be doing a good job.” Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie while playing mostly in the base offense. He also was effective as a receiver with 36 receptions for 302 yards and a touchdown. Marrone said Fournette is improving on third down, adding, “It’s a little bit different on third down, schematically what we do. He’s just getting himself comfortable with that.” …

4.Marrone on Tuesday discussed something that has long been highly-regarded around the Jaguars: the resilience of quarterback Blake Bortles. The fifth-year veteran showed a tendency to respond well following a bad play or series last season, and he led the Jaguars on a 70-yard touchdown drive this past Saturday in Minnesota following his first interception of the preseason. “He went through some tough times last year,” Marrone said. “I probably would rely more on what happened last year and just a guy that has done a very good job of handling all the adversity from the standpoint of media or his teammates and things of that nature. Internally, you would have to ask him. He seems like a guy that is able to bounce back.”

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