Jaguars' second-year players appreciate less-hectic offseason


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blake Bortles spent two months working with a quarterback guru and organized a weeklong throwing session with several receivers.

Allen Robinson continued to rehab the stress fracture in his foot that cost him the final six games of the 2014 season.

Marqise Lee went back to USC to continue working toward his degree and participated in the throwing session.

Yet despite the fact that those three players were pretty busy during the offseason, they all said they felt rested and rejuvenated heading into their second season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The past few months were significantly less stressful and tiring than the same time period in 2014, when they were getting ready to begin their pro careers.

"I never expected myself to be that tired coming in last year," Lee said recently. "This year is way different. Now I feel way better. Well-rested.

"It’s amazing."

From the time players graduate or declare for the NFL draft, their life becomes ridiculously busy. They must choose an agent. Then it’s deciding on a place to train and then the actual training. But the workouts aren’t geared toward football. They’re geared toward the drills that will be done at the scouting combine, especially the 40-yard dash.

After that, it’s training for their pro day.

Then there’s the travel. To the combine. To private workouts. To visit NFL teams. For the projected high draft picks, it’s to the site of the NFL draft.

After they’re drafted, it’s a rookie minicamp, followed by OTAs, followed by a mandatory full-team minicamp, training camp, and then the season.

There’s little time for recovery and no time to relax. By the time their rookie seasons are over, the players have been busy since they started fall camp before their final season in college -- roughly 16 months.

So rehabbing a stress fracture, as Robinson did, is almost a vacation.

"I was just talking to [Allen] Hurns about [how] it’s so different as far as this time a year ago," Robinson said. "You’re wondering where you’ll be drafted and then when you get drafted, you jump right into it on a different team trying to learn their playbook.

"Now, just going through our normal routine. We’re kind of used to everything, so it’s a lot less stressful this time of year."

Bortles took a couple weeks off after the season ended to rest his body, but then got busy. He spent more than two months in California working with quarterback guru Tom House and coach Jordan Palmer. Bortles said he spent five consecutive days with House, who also has worked with Tom Brady and Drew Brees, and then worked with him three days a week for the rest of the two months. He also threw with Palmer once or twice a week.

The throwing session with receivers lasted about a week as well.

Yet Bortles feels much less tired than he was last year at this time.

"When you’re coming out and you’re getting ready for the combine, you’ve got to worry about so much stuff," he said. "There’s so many little things. You’re trying to figure out how to get in a stance to run a 40, stuff like that that’s irrelevant for playing quarterback.

"You don’t have to worry about that and you’re able to say, ‘OK, I’m going to go get mentally and physically better. I’m going to let my body heal. I’m going to get stronger. I’m going to do what I want, whether I want to lose weight, gain weight, put muscle on, and then I’m going to go work on my craft and go become a better quarterback mentally and physically working on things, throwing the ball, footwork, watching film, kind of re-evaluating throws from last year and decisions and all that.’"

What the players are able to do in their first NFL offseason is concentrate on football, and that’s one of the reasons that a lot of players make a jump between their first and second seasons. Instead of worrying about getting to the NFL, they’re worried about getting better.

"With us now having all that behind us, it’s been all football now," Robinson said. "I leave all the stresses and stuff to my friends that are coming out in the draft this year."