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Jacksonville Jaguars

Blake Bortles says off season has given him time to heal up

Roy Cummings

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File photo by Icon Sportswire

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles played through a lot of pain during the 2016 season. He struggled with a separated shoulder from early October on and says the tendinitis in his wrist that developed late in the season proved to be even more of a hindrance than the shoulder issue.

Time off has done Bortles a world of good.

Prior to teeing off at his second annual charity golf tournament in Jacksonville over the weekend, Bortles said he has completely recovered from the shoulder and wrist issues that bothered him a year ago and will be full healthy when the Jags offseason workouts begin April 10.

“Everything’s good,’’ Bortles told reporters. “Good to go.’’

Good thing. Though Jags general manager David Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone have both said Bortles is their quarterback (at least for now), the man who’s really calling the shots in Jacksonville, new executive vice president Tom Coughlin, has adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

And well he should. Bortles took a big step backward in his development last year, his mechanics falling apart more and more with each passing week. How much of that was health related is hard to know but know this: Bortles has been to the doctor and sought a cure for what ailed him.

Bortles has spent the last few weeks in California working with noted quarterback doctors Tom House and Adam Dedeaux, and he says the work he’s put in there has allowed him to repair the mechanics of his delivery and refine his throwing motion.

“I feel really good as far as where I’m at mechanically, and how the ball’s coming out and how it’s spinning and all that,’’ Bortles said. “I think it’s been good. I’m going to head back out (this) week for another two weeks or whatever and then I’ll be back in [Jacksonville].’’

Bortles hasn’t been working alone while working with House and Dedeaux. Jags wide receiver Marqise Lee has taken part in the workouts as well and Bortles expects to start working with fellow Jags wideouts Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson again before offseason work begins, too.

When he does return, of course, Bortles will be working with a new quarterbacks coach, Scott Milanovich, and it will be the first time in his career that he’s worked with a quarterback’s coach who actually played in the NFL. Bortles says that change should help him get back on track, too.

“I think it’s huge,’’ Bortles said of working with a former pro. “He’s been around a lot of football, he’s coached a lot of football, he’s won at every level and he’s a guy that played the position, which is unique.

“There’s not a whole lot of quarterback coaches in the NFL that have played (in the league), so I think that’s there’s a unique aspect (to playing the position) that he has and he that he will bring to the table.’’

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Report- Jaguars will explore trading DB Jalen Ramsey

Florida Football Insiders

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The soap opera involving controversial and outspoken Jags defensive back Jalen Ramsey took another turn Sunday morning. That’s when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Jags are going to seriously consider trading Ramsey at the end of this season.

Schefter made the comments on ESPN’s Sunday morning “NFL Countdown” pregame show and also wrote about it on ESPN.com, citing League sources:

As we wrote earlier this week, Ramsey made waves when he tweeted Monday after the Jags fifth consecutive loss that Jaguar fans were going to “miss me when I’m gone.”

Ramsey tried to downplay the controversy, when he met with the media on Thursday, and said that he was only talking to “fake Jaguar fans.” And further, he said that he wants to finish his career in Jacksonville.

We’ve documented the off-season of headaches that included: Ramsey not showing up to OTAs, delaying arriving to training camp by 5 days after the birth of his daughter, and being outspoken in an article on GQ.com criticizing multiple quarterbacks including the Jaguars opponent today, the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger.

And he and former teammate Dante Fowler were both suspended for a week during the preseason for their behavior at a Jags training camp practice, where Fowler was trying to get into a fight with teammate Yannick Ngakoue.

Earlier this week, Coach Doug Marrone took an unusual step for him and actually specifically mentioned Ramsey by name, as having blown a key coverage in the first half on a Colts touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron.

Later Sunday morning, the Jaguars released a statement denying the trade rumor:

Ramsey was a top-10 pick of the Jaguars in 2016 and is in the third year of his four-year rookie deal. So that makes the rumors about a possible trade after the season even juicier, because he’s much more affordable for another team to acquire right now.

The Jaguars will take on the Steelers later today at TIAA Bank field.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Gameday- Jaguars rematch Steelers looking stop losing streak

Florida Football Insiders

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Jaguars (3-6) vs. Steelers (6-2-1)

When: Sunday 1 p.m.

Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville

Spread: Steelers by 5 1/2 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)

Here’s what to watch:

Build on last week’s offensive success

The Jaguars came to life on the offensive side of the ball in Indianapolis. Even though it was a 29 – 26 loss, Leonard Fournette was back for the first time in five weeks, ran tough and ended up with two touchdowns. As we have well-documented, he also help set up the play-action pass that has been sorely missed on a consistent basis for Jacksonville.

Blake Bortles (shown above in January’s playoff win) was able to hit Donte Moncrief with an 80-yard touchdown and the Jags had their best offensive output, since game four of the season.

More than likely, the Steelers will put some points on the board, and Jacksonville has to be ready to keep up with them.

Slow down Big Ben

In their two wins last season at Pittsburgh, the Jaguars defense was more than opportunistic against Ben Roethlisberger. They had five interceptions in the regular season win and then, two more takeaways in the AFC divisional playoff win were all critical.

The Jags come in with only eight takeaways in nine games, so far. And, it’s one of the big reasons they are on a five game skid.

If Jacksonville gives Roethlisberger time to throw without sacking and knocking him down or at least pressuring him into early errant bad decisions, it’s going to be a long day.

Get the Swagger back.

Somewhere along the way, the Jaguars have lost part of what made them good in 2017. They played as a confident, almost cocky, football team, especially on defense.

They have been humbled in one decisive loss after another, recently and that swagger is not there.

Playing at home Sunday, can Jacksonville revive some of that attitude in front of the home fans by making some big plays early? There will be a large contingent of Steelers fans on hand, as they always travel well.

Let’s see if it makes a difference being back at home for the first time in almost a month.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Can Jaguars climb off canvas Sunday vs Steelers?

Florida Football Insiders

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It was January 14th of 2018 and the Jaguars were rematching the Steelers in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs in Pittsburgh. Jacksonville had already upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh back in the regular season, and most across the NFL felt that Pittsburgh was going to get their revenge that cold western Pennsylvania Sunday.

As you probably know by now, the Jaguars stunned Pittsburgh in a wild 45 – 42 victory which only reinforced the success of their magical turn around season of 2017. Winning 10 games, the AFC South and two playoff games was almost unfathomable, when 2017 began in North Florida.

Still it happened.

But, “that was then, and this is now,” and with a season of expectation and anticipation having evaporated, as Jacksonville stands at 3 – 6 on the season, it’s once again the Steelers in front of them on Sunday.

However, this game will be at home at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.

And the only question now for the Jaguars is: can the team that put together two great performances against the Steelers last year, climb off the canvas and get back on track for this season with another win against Pittsburgh?

There are positive signs for the Jaguars, even with their recent struggles, that say “yes.”

One of those is the return of the Jaguars best weapon Leonard Fournette, who while he didn’t have spectacular stats (24 carries 53 yards) in last week’s 29 – 26 loss to the Colts, was effective at times, including two Red Zone touchdowns.

The Jags and specifically quarterback Blake Bortles, have missed his presence and the fact that it sets up their play action passing game. Fournette had two big games in the wins over Pittsburgh last year, registering a hundred yards in both and scoring too early touchdowns (photo above) in the playoff win that set the tone at 14 -0 for Jacksonville.

Another positive sign is that the Jaguars defense has begun to play better of late. Even though they lost to the Eagles and Wembley Stadium three weeks ago, then came off the bye and lost to the Colts, they have been registering more pressure and sackss on the quarterback. And, in last week’s case, stymied Indianapolis for much of the second half of the game.

The Jaguars best chance to win is to get Ben Roethlisberger to commit turnovers, again, like he did in the two losses last year. He threw five interceptions in the first meeting in the regular season and had an interception and lost a sack fumble that was returned by Telvin Smith for a touchdown in the playoff defeat.

Will the Jaguars be able to rekindle some of that turnover success against “Big Ben?” It will be a big key.

This game was originally supposed to be a Sunday night Prime-time affair on NBC for all of the country to watch, but the network “flexed out” of that game. Now, CBS will show it, still to a large portion of the country, at 1 p.m. Eastern.

So yes, the Jaguars, but their season is not yet finished. If they can find a way to win here it gives them confidence that they can get back in the AFC Wildcard picture.

And we know, because we saw it twice last year, the Jaguars can play with and beat the Steelers.

Now will we see them show some pride, heart and good football in beating the Steelers again in 2018?

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