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Open locker room: 'I have to play better,' Bortles says


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles addressed the issue as he typically does.

The Jaguars' third-year quarterback is usually remarkably honest and transparent when it comes to his play. When he discussed the first two games of the 2016 NFL season on Wednesday, he did so in his usual fashion.

"I as a quarterback haven't played well in two games and our offense hasn't played well in two games," Bortles said Wednesday. "For anything to change, I'm going to have to play better."

Bortles, speaking as the Jaguars (0-2) began preparing to play the unbeaten Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m., echoed the thoughts of his teammates when discussing the game's importance.

Yes, it's important, but the Jaguars can't attach must-win importance to it.

"It's kind of a collective effort," Bortles said. "Guys understand that what we've been doing hasn't worked. We're trying to continue to battle and continue to fight. When you start 0-2 it's pretty easy for guys to close up shop and be negative – and I don't think we have the locker room to do that.

"We have a lot of guys who believe in [Head Coach] Gus Bradley, who believe in his philosophies and we're going to continue to go about it the way we always have."

The Jaguars, after losing by four points to Green Bay in the regular-season opener, fell behind 21-0 at halftime and 35-0 entering the fourth quarter in a 38-14 loss to San Diego Sunday.

"It was very difficult because of the circumstances," middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "We felt like we were going to go into that game and win. We slipped up on our discipline and our details and that was the end result. We need to be able to quickly recover and get into this week.

"We have an exciting opportunity this week to demonstrate our character and show who we really are. We went to the West Coast and got blown out. Now, we have the opportunity to come home and play in front of our fans and get a big win. That's the goal: 'Let's show people what this team is all about.'''

Sunday was a difficult loss, and post-game emotions Sunday reflected that. But eight-year veteran defensive tackle Roy Miller said players can't approach the following week obsessed with San Diego.

"As a player you have to put all that other stuff behind you," Miller said. "I can't see anything but this week. I don't care what happened last week or the week before. All you can do is your best. The moment you focus on 'what matters, this week, what does this mean …' you go crazy. I have to focus on the moment today and the opponent this weekend."

Bortles also said the coming days can't be looked at as having extra meaning.

"I don't think you can look at it like that," he said. "We have to look at it the same way we've looked at the past two. It's always a battle to figure out, 'Why have we struggled? Why haven't we started fast?' Those are questions we're continuing to try to answer."

Bortles completed 31 of 50 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns against San Diego, but was intercepted twice in the first half and lost a first-half fumble when he was sacked. He has completed 55 of 89 passes for 649 yards three touchdowns with three interceptions this season.

Bortles called his interceptions Sunday "dumb," and was clear on several occasions about his need to improve on his first two weeks. But as a team, he said the only approach this week is to focus on preparing for Sunday.

"Both of them were extremely disappointing," Bortles said. "For us, the only thing you can say about last week is it was bad and we played poorly. There's not a whole lot to be gained from it. That's not who we want to be so forget about and move on."

Running back Chris Ivory returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. He has missed the first two games of the regular season with a medical issue that arose the morning of the team's regular-season opener against Green Bay.

"We have a sound, realistic group of guys who believe in themselves and believe in one another. We understand when we play well and do what we're supposed to do we'll be fine and we'll execute and move the ball. We just haven't done that in the first two games."

"We need to do a better job getting off the grass on third down."
--DC Todd Wash on a Jaguars defense that ranks 30th in the NFL on third downs (14 of 27 allowed)

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