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Open Locker Room: Bortles says wrist, confidence fine


CHANDLER'S CROSS, England – His wrist is fine, and his confidence is, too.

That was rookie quarterback Blake Bortles' situation as the Jaguars moved on from the see-the-sites portion of their trip overseas into the game-preparation phase.

Bortles, the Jaguars' starting quarterback, sustained a sprained left wrist against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, and will be listed on the team's injury report. But Bortles on Wednesday said he isn't worried about the injury.

"It's fine – it's 100 percent," Bortles said while speaking to the media at the Grove Hotel as the Jaguars (1-8) prepared to play the Dallas Cowboys (6-3) at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday at 1 p.m.

Jaguars players had Monday off after arriving in London early that day, as well as all day off on Tuesday. They resumed normal practice and preparation Wednesday. Many players spent time Monday and Tuesday at community events and seeing sites around London.

On Wednesday, with the team resuming normal activities, Bortles met with the media as he does every Wednesday – and has been the case in recent weeks, his maturation process was a topic.

Bortles, the starter since halftime of Week 3, has completed 154 of 241 passes for 1,631 yards and eight touchdowns in that span. He also has thrown 13 interceptions, including six in the last three games. He threw two interceptions against the Dolphins two weeks ago that were returned for touchdowns.

"I think it's hard," Bortles said of balancing risk versus reward. "You just have to try to take calculated risks and choose your fights."

Bortles improved this past week with his best statistical game of the season, completing 22 of 33 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns against Cincinnati in a game he finished despite the wrist issue. He also threw an interception into the end zone with 3:55 remaining.

The Jaguars trailed by the final margin at the time.

"It was all right – it was average, probably at best," Bortles said when asked how he played against the Bengals. "I just have to continue to learn from mistakes. There are a lot of things that can be beneficial, good or bad, as long as you learn from them and take them the right way.

"I just have to continue to do that and learn from those things."

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday he has no worries about Bortles' confidence, and said there has been no consideration to return to Chad Henne as the starter.

"With Blake, he is so confident, so competitive," Bradley said. "With him, he's constantly trying to get better. He learns from his mistakes. He goes out and tries to correct them. All those signs are just part of growth. Sometimes, they're unfortunate. Sometimes, they sting you.

"What I really watch for is if there's adversity and if something goes wrong, is he learning from it? Is he growing from it? As long he does that, that's what we expect from Blake and we have no issue."

Bortles said despite the recent turnovers his approach and confidence remains what it was when he entered the lineup.

"I think it's the same," Bortles said. "It hasn't really wavered much. People talk about rookie mistakes and all that stuff. I think that's part of it. You're going to make mistake if you're a rookie or in your 15th year. It's important to stay confident and understand what you need to do to get better."

Also around the Jaguars on Wednesday:

*Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks also met with the gathered media at the Grove Hotel, and talked about a variety of topics. Those topics included his Pro Bowl hopes. "That's always a personal goal when you set out to play," Marks said. "But once we come into the team aspect of it, I just play within the defense and do what I'm told." Marks through nine games this season has played perhaps the best football of his six NFL seasons, registering four sacks. That ties a career high. Marks said he feels the benefit of the Jaguars reducing repetitions for the defensive linemen by adding depth at the position. "I feel like I'm fresh," Marks said. "I feel like I can rush the passer better on third down." …

*Marks and other veterans agreed that while the time adjustment in London is an issue for teams playing at Wembley, the difference doesn't extend into the weekend. "I know to expect, as a veteran," Marks said. "I can get through it." Marks said while there was some difficulty sleeping early in the week last year "by Sunday, I was OK. The first couple of days you might not get as much sleep as you're used to, but your body catches up." …

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