Jacksonville Jaguars vs Green Bay Packers: 5 players to watch

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Aug 28, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars guard Brandon Linder (65) and quarterback Blake Bortles (5) talk prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 28, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars guard Brandon Linder (65) and quarterback Blake Bortles (5) talk prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aug 28, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) runs with the football in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 28, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) runs with the football in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

4) Blake Bortles, quarterback

The progress Blake Bortles displayed from his rookie season (worst quarterback in football) to his second season (second-most touchdowns, seventh most yards in the NFL) was ridiculous. Don’t expect him to make such a leap again in his third season.

Still, progress should be expected. Bortles has shown growth in the preseason, especially in taking care of the football (he led the NFL in interceptions and fumbles in 2015). He also showcased the arm strength that has made him a threat through his short NFL career and improved accuracy on impressive throws.

Bortles has the benefit of tossing passes to one of the best receivers in the NFL (Allen Robinson) and other potent pass catchers Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, and Julius Thomas. Expect some big plays in this game from the passing attack.

What will be more interesting to see (aside from risky throw and circus catches) is how Bortles deals with pressure (most sacked QB in the NFL the last two seasons and it isn’t all the offensive line’s fault) and his decision making. It’s no secret that Bortles likes to force throws and hang onto the ball too long. Growth in both areas could be on display in the opener against the Packers.

How Bortles measures up against Aaron Rodgers will be an intriguing storyline to watch. Bortles is one of the best young passers in the NFL and Rodgers is one of the best passers in the NFL of any age. Keep an eye on the stat lines and how both command their offenses.

Next: Overshadowed but not forgotten

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