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Open Locker Room: Bortles remains in control


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles' stance remained the same Wednesday.

But while that's true, and while the Jaguars quarterback said he will continue to focus on reducing turnovers, his teammates on Wednesday said something else is as important:

Their confidence in the rookie remains high. Very, very high.

"He has it under control," Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-7) prepared to play the Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1) at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday at 1 p.m.

"Blake is the type of guy who will bounce back. He's a leader. He's hard on himself because he wants to be at his best. I'm not too worried about him at all. I think we all need to do a better job around him making more plays."

Bortles this past Sunday threw two interceptions against Miami. Each was returned for a touchdown in a 27-13 loss at EverBank Field, after which Bortles said, "I'm killing us."

Bortles, meeting with the media for the first time since Sunday, on Wednesday said he still felt the same way.

"Nothing changed," he said. "I didn't say that because I was mad or anything."

Bortles added that with the defense not allowing more than 16 points in the last four games, and with the Jaguars' running offense averaging 181 yards over the last two games, "Obviously, I've got to eliminate some mistakes in order to keep things positive."

"It's like, 'You've got to take it to the next step,''' Bortles said. "You say, 'What's been the deciding factor?' It has been turnovers. Anybody can see that and they've all come from me, so something has to change there in order for us to be successful."

Bortles has started the last five games, completing 132 of 208 passes for 1,344 yards and six touchdowns in six appearances this season. Of his interceptions, four have been returned for touchdowns, including the two against Miami.

The discussion of Bortles' interceptions has reached the level of a roar among Jaguars observers, but in the Jaguars' locker room the approach was calmer.

"He's so cool," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "He's upset when he makes a mistake and he wants to be perfect. We all want to be perfect, you know? It's how you handle it after the mistake. He's just so cool, and I can respect that. I'm kind of the same way. I want to be perfect, but to be able to stay calm through it all, to get back on the field and do what you do … that's why he's able to make plays after that (a turnover)."

While he has been praised for his ability to respond after interception, he said Wednesday it does become "more challenging" as the season continues.

"You don't want to throw an interception, and you don't want to turn the ball over in the red zone when you have an opportunity to get points," he said. "The more you do it, and the further along in the process you get, it's definitely more frustrating, but it's just another challenge and another test to see how you respond to it."

Bortles said "a few" of the turnovers have been footwork issues, an area on of focus in the offseason but an area he said he has improved since his final collegiate season.

"In college, a majority of the interceptions were footwork, so now it's just more decision-making more than anything," Bortles said.

Bortles said although it's difficult to focus on footwork and fundamentals during the season when the emphasis is game-planning and preparation, "You want to continue to try and improve on things."

"You want to continue and try to get things better," Bortles said. "You're not going to focus as much on your fundamentals and mechanics while you're playing. You just want to go play and make the right decisions and make the right read and throw the ball, but it's definitely something you want to stay conscious of and continue to work on."

Also around the Jaguars:

*Cornerback Aaron Colvin said he expects to practice Wednesday, and also said he expects to continue practicing this week. "I should go the whole time," Colvin said. That's a change from last week, when Colvin worked limited on Wednesday before getting a scheduled day off Thursday and not practicing Friday. He has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list since training camp while returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained at the Senior Bowl. The team has two weeks to activate him, and if he is activated Sunday he could play the nickel corner with starting nickel Will Blackmon out an extended period with a fractured left index finger. Colvin said he has not been told if he will be active Sunday. "Whatever they tell me, I'll be ready to go," Colvin said. …

*Cornerback Tommie Campbell is expected to practice Wednesday after officially signing Wednesday morning to replace cornerback Alan Ball on the roster. Ball, a starter in the first seven games of the season, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a biceps injury sustained in a Week 7 victory over Cleveland. "I'm ready to go," Campbell said. "I'm ready to help do whatever is needed to be done to help the team." …

Take a closer look at the Jaguars Week 9 opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals.

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