Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC South [Print without images]

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Up and down day for Blake Bortles

By Michael DiRocco

Rookie quarterbacks in the NFL are going to have good and bad days. It’s just the nature of them learning to play the position.

Blake Bortles had both on Wednesday.

The No. 3 overall pick signed his contract in the morning -- a four-year deal worth $20.654 million with a $13.34 million signing bonus -- but then struggled during the second day of the Jacksonville Jaguars' mandatory minicamp. The former Central Florida standout completed just 5 of 12 passes in 11-on-11 drills and had trouble connecting on any intermediate or deep throws.

"It wasn't a great day," Bortles said. "I thought there were things that I didn't do very well, but that's part of it. It's not a two- or a three- or a four-week process. It's a long process, a long journey. I need to keep learning, getting better and asking Chad [Henne] questions. I definitely have a lot to improve and work on."

Bortles said the biggest thing is his footwork, particularly when he throws to his right. He’s not stepping in the direction of the throw with his front foot, which leaves his upper parallel to the line of scrimmage on his release. That’s costing him velocity and accuracy, he said.

Bortles was all over the place with his throws on Wednesday. He bounced a few in the dirt, threw behind a receiver and threw several low balls that receivers had to pluck out of the air above their shoes.

Jaguars quarterback coach Frank Scelfo is using an interesting approach. He is concentrating on fixing Bortles’ footwork during individual drills but just wants Bortles to be concerned with making the correct read and good decisions during 11-on-11 drills. Eventually, all the work they’re doing together individually will become second nature, but it’s not going to be a quick process, which is why the Jaguars plan to start Henne all season.

"I'm working on a lot of footwork stuff, so there's things that I'm not doing well right now," Bortles said. "But I'm not worrying about it because I'm trying to fix something else. It is a process. It's something that me and Frank are working on that's going to take a while.

"Frank’s awesome about it. He talks about when we do individual and we do all this stuff that’s when you focus on what you’re working on, and when you go into team and 11-on-11 you just go make the reads, go make a play, and fix it [later]. You’ve got to make the stuff muscle memory because what I’ve been doing for 22 years isn’t the right way but that’s what I’m used to doing so I’ve got to fix it."

Bortles said fixing his deep passes will be something he works on in July while throwing on his own and during training camp. Right now they’re fluttering and off target and they’ll hopefully improve as his footwork does.

The Jaguars don’t appear to be worried about it, though.

"I think anytime you see a quarterback throw the ball in the dirt a couple of times and then you see him in his workout he had 62 throws and not one of them was in the dirt, and all of a sudden he comes here and does it, sometimes there’s anxiety and sometimes he’s pressing and trying to do too many things," coach Gus Bradley said. "We’re just watching that and he’ll work through that. [Those are] some of the things he has to work through and he will."