When the Jaguars host the Bucs in the teams’ mutual preseason openers on Friday night, Chad Henne will start at quarterback. The team has not yet addressed publicly whether backup Blake Bortles, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, will get reps with the first-string offense.
Coach Gus Bradley is due to address the media on Thursday, and the topic undoubtedly will come up.
When it does, don’t be shocked if Bradley says Bortles won’t get reps with the starters, and that the only first-stringer who may be on the field with Bortles is second-round receiver Marqise Lee. If so, that would be a gutsy play by Bradley, since it would expose Bortles to the second-string offensive line — and in turn to backup defensive players from the Bucs who are hoping to catch the eye of the coaching staff by doing something memorable. Like getting a big hit on Bortles.
Of the three teams that took quarterbacks in round one, the Jaguars seem to be the most serious about benching Bortles to start his career. Right or wrong, it flies in the face of the current trend to throw first-round quarterbacks into the fray right away.
Then again, with the Jaguars putting Bortles on the field behind something other than the team’s best line of blockers, maybe they are.