The Jaguars have nearly reached the end of organized team activities and as quarterback Blake Bortles enters his third season, the expectations are higher than ever before.
Bortles was calm and collected on Tuesday as he answered questions from the media. The young quarterback still has a lot to learn, but he feels that having a second offseason in Greg Olson's offense has been to his benefit.
"[Olson and quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett] definitely have good chemistry together and it’s perfect because those are the guys that us as quarterbacks talk to the most, so it’s like hearing one voice when talking to those two guys," Bortles said. "They do a good job. Hackett puts in a ton of time in order to get us ready and prepared, so it’s been good.”
Hackett agrees that Bortles' familiarity with the offense has provided him with a boost this offseason. As with any trade, the more experience Bortles has in the offense, the better he is likely to become.
“Every day we try to hone it down to a couple things, whether it’s footwork, whether it’s understanding of a situation. I think that where he’s at in his career and how young he is, I think sometimes we all have to sit back and go, ‘Wow, he’s still very young.’ He’s only – I don’t even know how many games it is – old, but it’s not a lot compared to the rest of the guys in the league, so he’s got to get better at everything."
While Bortles is familiar with the offense, he is being asked to do more this season. The hurry-up offense was a rarity for the Jaguars last season and now Bortles is being asked to man the controls in up-tempo situations.
"I think anytime that you use the hurry-up, it’s always fun," Hackett said. "It’s always exciting. It puts pressure on the defense and it’s always good for a young quarterback to have to do that kind of stuff – to have to react to changes, react to situations and think faster. So anytime you can simulate that, it’s always good.”
Bortles has had up-and-down moments in practice over the last few weeks, but he appears very comfortable relaying information to teammates and delivering the ball with confidence.
“It’s good," Bortles said of his progress. "It’s continuing to go. Guys are getting better day after day and things are running smoothly. I think there’s just been a lot of progression really in every position.”
Lee refuses to let injury concerns define him
Wide receiver Marqise Lee understands why he is constantly badgered with questions about his health. The third-year player suffered a significant knee injury in college and has struggled to stay on the field in the NFL.
He is now feeling healthy and is ready to move on from his injury woes. The quick receiver has shown a lot of speed during OTA practices and ended Tuesday's session on a very positive note.
"It was a simple 'go route' and I ran and caught it," Lee said of his impressive play to end the day of field drills.
Lee is looking to get away from the stigma of being considered injury prone. He wants to change perceptions by playing well and staying off the injury report.
Only 24, Lee likely has a lot of football left in him. Despite having two injury-riddled campaigns under his belt, Lee's NFL legacy has yet to be finalized. He has declined to hold back in practice and has mentally climbed over the hump of worrying about injuries.
"When you understand the game, you understand it comes with injuries," Lee said. "Yes, somebody gets lucky and probably never has injuries, but throughout the course of playing NFL football, injuries are going to come. Regardless if it's a collision or on your own. It happens and if you understand that, you'll be much better."
Lee believes he is back to where he was when he electrified the Pac-12 as a sophomore at the University of Southern California. That season he complied 118 catches for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. While he appreciates the successful college season, he does not want it be the lone bright spot of his football career.
"I think I am [back to where I need to be]," Lee said. "As far as my speed and getting going, I can't complain. So I think I'll have a pretty good year if I stay healthy."
- Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (knee) was in attendance at Tuesday's practice but stayed on the sideline.
- Wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring), safety Earl Wolff (hamstring), wide receiver Tony Washington (leg), defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (triceps) and offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee) have been mainstays on the sidelines throughout OTAs. Both offensive tackle Jermey Parnell (hand) and tight end Nic Jacobs (hand) were limited to individual work on Tuesday.
- Backup offensive lineman Josh Wells, who returned to practice this week after suffering a groin injury, said he was focusing on the right tackle position so far this offseason.
- Bortles and Hackett both used the term "coach's son" to describe rookie quarterback Brandon Allen. Both are impressed with the young passer.
- Malik Jackson on having play-makers in the secondary: "It's really convenient because it goes hand-in-hand. Without coverage, you can't rush and without rush, you can't cover. So just to have people behind us that know what they're doing and know they can lock people down and know they can give me a couple more seconds to get there is the difference between making sacks and not."
- Linebacker Hayes Pullard on his role: "I'm still looking at it as I have nothing set. I know [Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith], Myles Jacks and Jordan Tripp, Sean Porter and [Joplo Bartu] are all great linebackers. We've got to continue to compete against one another and for ourselves, because if we're not here, we can start somewhere else because we're all great linebackers."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.