JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Rookie Blake Bortles will get his first opportunity with the first-team offense this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said Friday that Bortles will get repetitions with the starters in practice and will play about a quarter with them during next week’s preseason game at Detroit.
”Our whole philosophy is to get our rookies in with the ones,” Bradley said. ”I believe we need to get that done this week, where we get Blake in with the ones to see how he handles it.”
Bradley remains committed to veteran Chad Henne as the team’s opening-day starter. Since selecting Bortles with the third overall pick in May’s NFL draft, the Jaguars have insisted that Henne would start and Bortles would take over when he’s ready. In the meantime, Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell want to foster a pressure-free environment for Bortles to transition to the team’s pro-style system.
But the former UCF standout has been impressive in two preseason games, completing 23 of 34 passes for 290 yards and showing he’s ready for the next challenge.
He will get it against the Lions. But the Jaguars don’t want anyone to think the move means they’re considering starting the rookie.
”There is going to be some time that we have to take a look at this and see the direction we’re going,” Bradley said. ”But right now, that’s not even a question in our mind.”
Both quarterbacks were solid in Thursday night’s 20-19 loss at Chicago. Henne completed 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards. Bortles was 11-of-17 passing for 160 yards.
When Bortles does take over, the Jaguars would like to see the offense around him fully synced. But the unit is playing without receivers Cecil Shorts III, Allen Robinson, Tandon Doss and Ace Sanders. And right tackle Austin Pasztor broke a bone in his right hand Thursday night and will miss at least a month.
Cam Bradfield will start in Pasztor’s place. The team also is trying to figure out its center and right guard positions, with Mike Brewster, Jacques McClendon and third-round draft pick Brandon Linder vying for those spots.
”I just think where Chad is at right now and where our team is at right now, I think that’s the best thing for us right now,” Bradley said.
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