You did not need to ask Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles how he felt after the first day of training camp. All you had to do was watch him on the practice field adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
His throwing motion is better. The ball he throws is tighter. And for the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise, those are really good things. Blake Bortles talked to the media after practice, reiterating how he felt and what he thoughts as the team begins its march toward the 2018 regular season.
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“Yeah, I thought it was good for the most part. We still have a lot of things to clean up. It is the first day,” Bortles said Thursday afternoon. “We have to get in better shape and run around and get used to playing in this heat because I think it is something we can use as an advantage to ourselves. That will come. There is stuff we have to work on, but I think overall for it being the first day of camp, I think there was a lot of good stuff.”
Some believe this is a crossroads season for the fifth-year quarterback. He showed signs of improvement last season, but there is still plenty of work to be done. The first step was getting through the first practice. Now, he and his teammates can make adjustments each day with the coaching staff.
Bortles is being asked to work with new teammates, become more of a vocal leader on the field and continue the same progress he made in 2017. It’s a tall task for anyone, but he welcomes the challenge. Head coach Doug Marrone spoke earlier on Thursday about getting better each day. It’s a mantra the former first-round draft pick has taken to heart.
No longer is there a wrist injury to deal with. No longer is there pain. Bortles won’t see his name on the injury report each week. There is a calm he is experiencing for the first time.
“It kind of became normal. It just hurt all the time,” he explained. “That becomes the new normal, and it is not that big of a deal. It is definitely a relief to be able to throw a ball, and there is no pain at all. It is definitely good and positive.”
Another trip to California this offseason meant more focus on mechanics and his throwing. Bortles said it was easier this offseason, not having to deal with the issue that has plagued him.
“It is just a lot of process to be able to go out there and do what you should be able to do without any pain. To be able to do that now finally is pretty awesome,” Bortles said.
This season is a bit different for Jacksonville in there isn’t a quarterback battle. There is no Chad Henne looking over his shoulder like this time last season. There is also a body of work from last season that proved to be a winning formula.
Now, Bortles needs to prove as the wrist continues to get better, so does his performance on the field in 2018.