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Open Locker Room: A confidence-builder for Bortles


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles saw good signs.

No interceptions …

A game-winning drive …

Those without question are good things for a rookie quarterback, and they are signs of progress for the No. 3 overall selection in 2014 NFL Draft. Bortles saw those things this past Sunday. He did say on Wednesday that improvement still remains key.

But he also said confidence – for himself and for the entire team – can be drawn from a very positive experience this past weekend.

"It was an opportunity for us to go out and put a game-winning drive together," Bortles said on Wednesday as the Jaguars (2-10) prepared to play the Houston Texans (6-6) in an AFC South game at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

"We were able to do that. The guys didn't flinch, didn't bat an eye or freeze up in the moment. They were excited, went out and executed."

Bortles, making his ninth career start, led a come-from-behind drive for the first time Sunday, engineering a 55-yard drive that ended with Josh Scobee's 43-yard field goal with :28 remaining. That gave the Jaguars a 25-24 victory over the New York Giants and capped a 21-point rally, the largest comeback in franchise history.

Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch on Wednesday afternoon said without question the experience can benefit a young, developing quarterback.

"I think it's certainly something to build off of," Fisch said. "You need to feel that, and (Bortles) needs to feel all the different experiences."

Bortles on Sunday completed 21 of 35 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. The touchdown pass came on a 30-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee in the third quarter.

Bortles on the game-winning drive threw for 39 yards and ran for 31 yards.

"I thought there were good things and bad things," Bortles said. "It's kind of the story of every week. There are good things to keep building on and bad things to improve on. I thought it was a really good team win for all three phases, and we definitely took and learned from."

Bortles' interception-less game Sunday was the first such game of his career, and continued a recent trend. He has thrown 15 interceptions this season, but just three in the last four games.

"We talked after Week 8 and said, 'Let's see if we can cut those numbers (of interceptions) in half,''' Fisch said. "He went from two for four straight weeks to one, one, one and zero. That's real good. … The less opportunities you give them to make interceptions, the less chance they have them. …

"We're going against a team this week that majors in takeaways – 28 takeaways, Houston's defense – so we have to do a great job protecting the ball run and pass."

Also around the Jaguars Wednesday:

*Kicker Josh Scobee was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after kicking two field goals – including the game-winner – in the Jaguars' victory Sunday. Scobee's 43-yard field goal with :28 remaining gave him his first game-winning field goal since October 2010 versus Indianapolis. "It's cool," Scobee said. "It's a pat on the back. For me, it's more of a team award than anything. It has been tough earlier in the year and the guys have been working extremely hard to correct the problems. It goes to show you hard work pays off."

*The Jaguars on Wednesday placed starting right tackle Austin Pasztor on injured reserve and signed linebacker A.J. Edds. Pasztor sustained a ruptured hamstring against the Giants. Edds worked out for the team Wednesday morning. A fourth-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, Edds said he doesn't yet know if he will play weak- or strong-side linebacker for the Jaguars. He has spent time with the Dolphins, Patriots, Colts and Jets and was released by the Jets October 28. "I'm glad to be here and eager to get to work," Edds said, adding that he has little familiarity with the Jaguars' scheme. "That's part of the deal," he said. "You have to come in and adjust and do things on the fly. One thing you can take care of is showing up, practicing, playing hard and producing. That takes care of a lot of things. That's what I'm worried about right now."

*Fisch said the plan entering the first full practice of the week remains to allow rookie free-agent Josh Wells and veteran Sam Young compete at right tackle. Fisch said Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley will decide on a starter later in the week. Fisch said Young did a good job while starting two games earlier in the season. Wells, who replaced Pasztor against the Giants, has been active over Young in recent weeks because of greater flexibility to play right and left tackle. "All three (Wells, Young and left tackle Luke Joeckel will be up (active Sunday)," Fisch said. …

*Fisch said he believes Bortles said he feels fine physically entering the week. The rookie quarterback underwent an MRI on his shoulder Monday, and also sustained an ankle sprain against the Giants. …

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