Thursday, July 31, 2014
Bortles not ready to challenge Henne yet
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It certainly is encouraging that rookie quarterback Blake Bortles reported to training camp ahead of offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s expectations, but Chad Henne is still not in jeopardy of losing his job as the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"It’s Chad," coach Gus Bradley said emphatically after the team’s first practice last week. "We feel really good about him."
The seventh-year player from Michigan has had a good start to training camp. His comfort level in the second year in the offense is evident in how quickly he’s making his reads and getting rid of the ball. He’s making good decisions and the offense is more productive when he’s on the field. He led the offense to the only two touchdowns it scored in 11-on-11 work on Wednesday morning, hitting rookie receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee for touchdowns.
That’s an overlooked aspect of how solidly Henne has performed. He’s without the Jaguars' most experienced receivers. Cecil Shorts is out with a hamstring strain, and Ace Sanders is taking a leave of absence ahead of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Henne is throwing to 10 receivers who have appeared in a combined 60 games (13 starts) and have 82 receptions. Six of the 10 are rookies or first-year players who have never appeared in a game.
That's not an ideal situation for a rookie quarterback, even one that was taken with the third overall pick.
Bortles is making progress, but he still has a long way to go before he can push Henne out of the starting job.