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Notes and observations: Pleased with Bortles


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles is showing Doug Marrone things to like.

That was maybe the most newsworthy takeaway from Marrone's media briefing Monday, with the Jaguars' head coach saying he likes a lot he has seen from Bortles in recent days.

Bortles, the team's starting quarterback for the past 45 regular-season games, started the first two games of the 2017 preseason before Marrone opened up the job for competition for a week between Bortles and Chad Henne.

Marrone on Saturday named Bortles the 2017 Week 1 starter.

"I'm happy," Marrone said Monday following the Jaguars' third practice since naming Bortles the starter. "I've seen him build on his last performance. … The footwork is better. It's relaxed.  I'm hoping to see that carry over because he's actually done quite well."

Bortles completed 12 of 16 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown with an interception while playing the third and fourth quarters of the Jaguars' Preseason Week 3 loss to Carolina Thursday.

"I think he's doing a nice job, I really do," Marrone said. "I think this is, for me personally, the best I've seen him."

Notes and observations from Monday around EverBank Field:

*Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook missed practice Monday while in Philadelphia for treatment on the injury that kept him out Thursday against Carolina. "We just sent him up to Philadelphia to get a treatment, and he'll be back and we expect him to play on Thursday," Marrone said. Other players out of practice Monday: running back T.J. Yeldon, tight end Mychal Rivera, wide receiver Rashad Greene Sr., linebacker Josh McNary, cornerback Doran Grant, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and fullback Marquez Williams. Of Ramsey's absence, Marrone said: "We just kept him in, same thing, treatment, him coming back.  He should be fine." Defensive tackle Michael Bennett returned to practice Monday. …

*One player standing out defensively in recent weeks: veteran defensive end Lerentee McCray. A fifth-year veteran from the University of Florida, he signed with the Jaguars in March as an unrestricted free agent free agent from Buffalo Bills. He signed primarily to help a special teams unit that struggled last season, and he is still expected to be a key, "four-core" player in that area. But McCray, after starting training camp as a defensive end, moved to strong-side linebacker in August and has solidified himself as a backup at that position. He also has the ability to give the Jaguars help in pass-rush situations, which was the original plan for him defensively. The Jaguars need experienced, reliable defenders who can impact special teams. McCray thus far is filling that role. …

*Marrone on Monday praised several players, most notably wide receiver Allen Robinson. Robinson, a Pro Bowl selection following the 2015 season, was one of the team's standout players during training camp for a third consecutive season. "I think he's had an outstanding camp, and I told that to Allen," Marrone said. "As far as the focus, as far as the amount of work he's put in, the amount of competition in each individual rep, whether it's one-on-one, whatever he's doing, he's going full speed. I told him the other day that I couldn't be any happier.  The job he's done preparing himself to come in, he came in ready to go. He really did. I have not seen him slowing down." …

*Marrone also on Monday noted rookie defensive end Dawuane Smoot and veteran cornerback Tyler Patmon, saying both players have the ability to make the team. "He works extremely hard, practices hard, loves football," Marrone said of Smoot, a third-round selection in the '17 draft. "I know people use that a lot, but I think sometimes you can tell and sometimes you can't. He's one of those guys that I really believe loves it.  He's done a nice job." …

*Marrone said he has yet to decide on playing time for Thursday night's preseason finale. Starters and front-line players often do not play in Week 4 of the NFL preseason, but Jaguars front-line players played more than normal in Week 2 and 3 losses to Tampa Bay and Carolina. The Jaguars' first-team offensive line played deep into the fourth quarter against Carolina. …

*Marrone on whether he discussed his decision to start Bortles with the Jaguars' wide receivers: "I usually try to stay away from asking players about other players. I just think that my job is to make those decisions. … I just watch, listen, look. Like every other position, whatever decision is made, you know, we need to support it 110 percent, and I think that the players have realized that. Whoever we put in, they trust we'll put the best person in, whether it be quarterback or guard or someone on defense, any of those positions. I think it's a dangerous thing when you start going that way, personally." …

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