JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Chad Henne was the quarterback reporters wanted to talk to Tuesday in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ locker room.
Blake Bortles was the quarterback they wanted to talk to him about.
While the Jaguars have insisted throughout the offseason that the six-year veteran will be their starter when training camp opens, it’s no secret that the third overall pick in the NFL draft last week will be looming over Henne — and not just because Bortles’ listed height at UCF was 6-foot-5.
Blaine Gabbert is now a distant memory, but after what transpired Thursday night in New York, no one is dare suggesting any quarterback controversy ended once the Jaguars shipped their underachieving 2011 first-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers.
Henne, who started the final 11 games of the 2013 season, is ready to again set aside whatever ego he has and do his best while letting the chips fall where they may.
"Whether it’s because I’m a little bit older now and understand the situations that go on in this league and having gone through it, there’s not many surprises you can throw at me," he said. "My job is to not worry about it and do what I’ve been doing this whole offseason and the time I’ve been in Jacksonville and just try to get better."
Or as he put it another way: "My job is to keep my job, first and foremost."
All nine draft picks, including Bortles, and 17 invited free agents will be on hand by Friday for the start of the Jaguars’ three-day minicamp.
"Chad’s been through it," said wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, their leading receiver each of the past two years. "He’s been through the quarterback competition, with trying to help Blaine. And now that he’s gone and Blake’s come in, Chad is the ideal pro that you want to be. He’s a professional on and off the field. He knows how to handle those situations."
Shorts is by no means a total stranger to Bortles. Both of them are represented by the same agency, which was why Shorts spent a few days earlier this year in California tossing the football around with him.
Since Shorts was still recovering from sports hernia surgery at the time, it wasn’t as if he were running any patterns for Bortles or could offer any further insights to Jaguars fans.
"I’m not going to sit here and say I watched film on him," he said. "So I don’t know how his footwork is or anything like that. But they’ll see a good player in him and the other guys we brought in."
Coach Gus Bradley didn’t drop any hints publicly before the draft that the Jaguars were interested in Bortles rather than Johnny Manziel or a player at another position. Privately, he contacted Henne about the possibility of bringing in the quarterback who had a breakout season as a junior when the Knights went 12-1.
"I said, ‘Gus, I know how this business is run. You’re not hurting my feelings. You’re doing what’s best for this team. I’m not going to change the way I am. I’m going to go out and compete each and every day,’ " he said.
In a further attempt to upgrade the league’s lowest-scoring offense from a year ago, the Jaguars took wide receivers Marqise Lee of USC and Allen Robinson of Penn State in the second round. Robinson saw Bortles complete 20 of 27 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns last September in UCF’s 34-31 victory over the Nittany Lions.
"He’s pretty big in the pocket," Robinson said. "But he can also create plays as well. That’s the big thing — just him having that ability to kind of extend the play, and for him to diagnose the defense before the play even starts."
With Justin Blackmon no longer in their plans — the Jaguars even gave what was the locker space for the 2012 first-round draft pick to free-agent quarterback Stephen Morris — Shorts is delighted to have receivers who can complement him.
"Since I’ve been here, we really haven’t had a big guy like Allen," he said. "He’s like 220 (pounds), he said today. That will be good to have him in the red zone and just period. He’s a big guy who can go up there and get the ball. And with Marqise, he can touch it and take it any play."
All the additions have created an air of excitement seldom felt around the Jaguars. But for now, it’s only in the speculative stages.
"We can’t come in here and talk about what we would like to do," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "We have to go out there every day and do it."