Horrific practice underscores Bortles’ shaky status with Jaguars

Ryan Mallett of the Baltimore Ravens showed Friday that quarterbacks sometimes have a meltdown in training camp.

He threw “at least five interceptions,’’ according to reports from the Ravens’ training camp, and almost threw two more.

“Tell (offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg) to tell Mallett to throw to the guys wearing the purple (offensive) jerseys,” Terrell Suggs said.

Mallett even threw a white towel in the air after the last one.

Blake Bortles of the Jaguars matched it Saturday night in the team’s first padded practice before more than 4,000 season-ticket holders invited to practice.

He threw five picks, two in 7-on-7 drills, and three more in 11-on-11 drills. Telvin Smith returned one of them in 11-on-11 drills for a touchdown.

The difference is that Mallett is the Ravens’ backup who was playing with the first unit because Joe Flacco has a back ailment.

Bortles, by contrast, is the Jaguars’ starter, and the team is betting the season on him.

Gulp.

The team’s new boss, Tom Coughlin, declined to bring in a new quarterback in free agency or the draft who could challenge Bortles, even though Bortles took a step back last year. Coughlin stuck with Chad Henne as Bortles’ backup.

Of course, it’s way too early to overreact to a bad camp practice, especially since Bortles looked sharp in the first two  practices before they put the pads on for the first time.

Still, a five-interception barrage gets noticed. ESPN made it one of the top headlines on the front page of its website: “Bortles five INTs point of concern for Marrone.’’

“I think any time someone doesn’t perform to what you want to do, you’re concerned about it,’’ Marrone said. “He’s not the only one out there. There’s some good things.’’

The Jaguars have Sunday off, and Marrone said looking at those interceptions will be a top priority.

“We’re going to look at it,’’ he said. “We’re going to look at those plays. If there’s any struggle or things we don’t like, then obviously we’re going to be smart enough to throw that crap out.’’

Marrone didn’t try to encourage Bortles, who wasn’t scheduled to speak to the media afterward, during the practice.

“If I’ve got to do that now, then we’re going to be in trouble,’’ he said.

Interceptions are not a new problem for Bortles, who spent a lot of time in the offseason in California working on his fundamentals.

He leads the league in turnovers with 63 since entering the league in 2013 and has thrown the second-most interceptions with 51. Of those interceptions, 11 were returned for TDs.

Of the five picks, only two were by defensive starters – Smith and Tashaun Gipson. Cornerback Tyler Patmon, who didn’t play in an NFL game last year (he played in two with Miami in 2015) while spending time with the Titans, Chiefs and Panthers, picked him off twice and linebacker Josh McNary picked Bortles off once.

Granted, it’s only early in training camp and one bad practice can be brushed off.

But the bad practice is going to put Bortles even more under the microscope than he already was.

Although they picked up his fifth-year option, the Jaguars are likely to look for a new quarterback next season if Bortles doesn’t rebound this year. This is a make-or-break year for him.

Coughlin isn’t exactly noted for his patience and he’s running the show now.

Now the ball is in Bortles court … and on his arm.

2 thoughts on “Horrific practice underscores Bortles’ shaky status with Jaguars”

  1. Surely the Jags have at least kicked the tires on Kaepernick. I know Jacksonville’s a military town, but having a decent chance at QB would likely overcome any negative press he received for kneeling during the anthem last year. Bortles may end up OK, but why not bring in some competition before drafting a QB / signing a FA QB next year?

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