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Open locker room: 'It's three opportunities …'


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles sees real meaning in the next two and a half weeks.

That's true even though the Jaguars quarterback already is thinking – and planning – what he's going to do after that.

Bortles when meeting with the media Wednesday afternoon discussed his plans for what could be a very important offseason personally, but also said before he focuses on the future he's going to concentrate on the present.

And for the present his biggest concern is the final three games of the 2016 regular season.

"It's a chance to go play three teams in our division, and one of them is going to go to the playoffs," Bortles said Wednesday as the Jaguars (2-11) prepared to play the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (7-6) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.

"We talked at the beginning of the year about waiting to own the AFC South, and that will forever be the team's goal. It gives you a chance to go play these three [teams]."

The Jaguars will play host to Tennessee (7-6) at EverBank Field on Christmas Eve, then will close the season at Indianapolis (6-7) in January. All three teams are alive in the race for the AFC South title.

"I don't think 'spoilers' is the right word to use,'' Bortles said. "I think you more so want a chance to say, 'How were we against one of these playoff teams?' You don't really want to talk about it or think about it, but you want to build something going into the offseason."

When it comes to that offseason, Bortles said he plans to spend it working in Southern California with his personal quarterbacks mentors/trainers – Tom House and Adam Dedeaux. Bortles brought Dedeaux to Jacksonville for several days in early November.

Bortles spent about two months working in Southern California in the 2015 offseason, and he improved from an 11-touchdown, 17-interception season as a rookie in 2014 to a 35-18 ratio last season. He focused more during this past offseason on working with Jaguars receivers in Jacksonville.

He has 21 touchdowns with 15 interceptions this season, a season to which he has referred in recent weeks as a "nightmare." He has had three interceptions returned for touchdowns this season, and has committed 19 turnovers including four turnovers.

"I'll head out to California," Bortles said, adding of this past offseason, "It was kind of difficult. We had a lot of guys here, so I thought it was important to be here to be with those guys and to be working with those guys.

"Maybe that was best for me and maybe not. I don't know. I think that's part of it – figuring out individually what your routine is in the offseason. In my rookie year after I went to California I felt good, and the play was definitely better than it has been this year. Maybe that's what I need to do and where I need to be."

But for now, Bortles said his only focus will remain on the next three Sundays, three games he said can set the tone for the future.

"It's tough," Bortles said. "Everybody here wants to be successful. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to own the AFC South and do all of that stuff. It's kind of, 'Let's build something.' The three divisional games are huge. It's three opportunities to go play.

"You can't just say, 'I can't wait for the offseason' and think something's going to magically change and we'll start winning next year. That has to start at some point. I think it can start in the offseason, but I don't really understand why it can't start right now. Go 3-0 at the end of the season and kind of carry that through the offseason and start next year with that."

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