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Notes and observations: Minicamp closes

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser’s notes and observations from Thursday’s final day of Jaguars 2018 Veteran Mandatory Minicamp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex …

1. An offseason-long theme remained strong during minicamp week: this has been a very good offseason for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. The fifth-year veteran looked confident throughout 10 voluntary organized team activities workouts the past three weeks, and closed the offseason with consistent work during this week’s three mandatory minicamp practices. Head Coach Doug Marrone perhaps said it best Thursday when he said that Bortles has looked improved – and that he indeed should look improved. “A better way to say it would be that it is a better understanding of the system, a better understanding of the philosophy of what we want to do,” Marrone said. “You can have that, but sometimes when you go to the field and you are in the moment, the clock is winding down and there is a lot of commotion going on, there is a lot of moving parts going on the other side of the football and sometimes it is tough to get to it. I have seen Blake do that during this camp – being able to get to it and help this football team. I think that is a step in the right direction.” That’s to be expected as a quarterback gains experience in an offensive system, and this offseason marks the beginning of Bortles’ second full season under Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Bortles talked extensively on that topic in his minicamp-closing media availability Thursday, saying that while the process is never-ending there is a “night-and-day” difference between this offseason and last offseason in terms of his knowledge of the offense. If any theme dominated the past months for the Jaguars, that has been it – and that’s a major positive sign as training camp approaches in late July. ….

2. Minicamp in one sense ended as it began, with a major theme being the potential impact on the offense of Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The veteran tight end signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March, and he drew praise throughout OTAs and minicamp for his work ethic and approach. learning a new system. He also has appeared in sync with Bortles throughout the past month of off-field work and appears likely to an integral part of the offense next season. “He’s been awesome,” Bortles said. “From the first day he showed up, we immediately started working together and doing things. Throughout this whole OTA process, he’d been good. He comes into our meetings with the quarterbacks during special teams, so we get extra time in there with him. He asks a ton of questions, and it’s pretty easy that when you come and watch a practice you can see how big of an impact he’s been and how much he’s going to help us out.” …

3. Perhaps the biggest Jaguars news of the final day of minicamp occurred shortly before practice. That was then the Jaguars announced that they had sold out of single-game tickets for both the regular-season home opener against New England and a Sunday Night Football game against Pittsburgh next season. That news came along with an announcement that the team this offseason has sold an NFL-leading 10,000 season-tickets after winning their first AFC South title last season. “It goes back to the beginning when I first took over: ‘You want to create a homefield advantage for yourself,’’’ Marrone said. “One of the reasons we weren’t [previously] able to do that is we hadn’t won a lot of football games. We appreciated the fans who were here, but we’re responsible for putting a winning product out there that the fans can feel proud of. I tried to make sure the players understood that they had to do that first before the fans start coming. We kind of went on a little run at home after [the early part of the season]. I think our players started getting excited about coming here, playing here and the type of atmosphere you can have.” The Jaguars for the better part of a decade were the subject of a far different type of attendance story. Sometimes those stories were fair and often they weren’t. But throughout that decade, the passion for this organization remained. Now, as enthusiasm builds for the 2018 season, the passion for the team continues to build, too.

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