JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It wasn’t as easy as it has been for rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, but the former Central Florida standout still put together another impressive preseason performance in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 24-14 loss to Atlanta at EverBank Field Thursday night.
Bortles started, but had to play behind a makeshift offensive line that was without two starters and had two others at different positions. He was sacked twice and was banged around twice more, but hung in there and completed 4 of 6 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
The touchdown pass came on his final play of the night -- and possibly the entire season -- when he came off his primary receiver and found rookie Marqise Lee running open behind the coverage for a 57-yard bomb.
"It was a good play," Bortles said. "I had him on a seam and threw a little later than I wanted to, but he did a good job staying alive and running down the field to make a play."
Here are some other thoughts on the Jaguars’ final preseason game of the year:
Because of injuries and healthy scratches, the Jaguars shuffled the starting lineup significantly. One of the beneficiaries was running back Denard Robinson. He didn’t have a lot of success running the ball, gaining 12 yards on seven carries, but he did take a swing pass 20 yards. That’s the best way to use the former Michigan quarterback. He’s still adjusting to the position but he’s very good in space, where he can use his speed and elusiveness to make plays.
Receiver Tandon Doss reinjured his right ankle and now the situation at punt returner is just as murky as it was last week. Even though Ace Sanders made his preseason debut and fielded punts against the Falcons, he’s unable to help because he is suspended for the first four games because of a violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Doss was supposed to be his replacement -- he led the AFC in punt return yardage last season while with Baltimore -- but the injury puts that in doubt. Doss had just returned to practice last Monday after missing 24 days with a sprained right ankle. Receiver Mike Brown returned punts against Detroit last week and he’s the likely candidate if Doss’ injury keeps him out several weeks. Cornerback Will Blackmon also has lined up to return punts in the preseason, but he has had trouble deciding whether to catch the ball or let it bounce.
It’s pretty clear by now that center Mike Brewster is in jeopardy of getting cut, and not just because he zipped a low snap by quarterback Ricky Stanzi in the third quarter. It’s one thing to not play in the first half of the third preseason game because the Jaguars wanted to see Jacques McClendon and Luke Bowanko, but Brewster didn’t enter Thursday's game until the third quarter. McClendon played left guard because of the injury to Zane Beadles (calf) and Bowanko snapped for the entire first half. Brewster has had several chances to grab the starting job and now might not make the roster, even though he can also play guard, because the Jaguars aren’t likely to keep more than one interior reserve.
Defensive end Ryan Davis received a lot of playing time early and recorded 1½ sacks. It was a good showing for the second-year player from Bethune-Cookman, who is a key part of the Jaguars’ four-LEO package. … It wasn’t a good night for left tackle Cameron Bradfield, though. He had trouble handling Falcons defensive end Jonathan Babineaux, who flew past him and put a big hit on quarterback Bortles. Bradfield missed another block on a play in which Bortles was sacked. It’s certainly a concern, as Bradfield is going to have to start at right tackle for the first several games of the regular season while starter Austin Pasztor is out with a broken hand. … Kicker Kasey Redfern was short on a 52-yard field goal attempt but did a solid job as a punter, averaging 49 yards on seven punts. That will give him some stuff to put on tape for other teams.