The Jacksonville Jaguars have constantly maintained that Chad Henne is the team's starting quarterback, despite the performances by rookie quarterback Blake Bortles thus far in the NFL preseason. The stance of when exactly Bortles will play has started to soften a bit and become more vague and now he's getting reps with the first team.
"This fan base saw a quarterback get thrown to the wolves," Fisch told Peter King of MMQB, in reference to Blaine Gabbert. "We don't need to force it. We never thought when we drafted (Bortles) we were taking him to play now. But nothing is set in stone. We're giving Blake every chance to make the decision super-hard for us."
As mentioned, Bortles is beginning to get reps with the first team in practice and will get time with the starters against the Detroit Lions, potentially as early as the second quarter. If Bortles can build on his two fantastic performances in the preseason so far against starting quality players, the clock could be accelerated on his development.
Some, including myself, have thought that the whole plan behind stating Bortles would be the Jaguars starter when he was "ready" was to remove the stress from trying to be the starter too soon. Bortles hasn't had that pressure on him through OTAs and training camp, thus he could focus solely on just getting better rather than showing why he should be the starting quarterback.
According to Peter King, this was by design from Gus Bradley.
As a coach," Bradley said, "why do I want to apply anxiety? Why do I want to apply stress? I am trying to slow Blake’s world down, so he can learn everything he needs to learn to be a successful player. The plan is all about getting Blake ready to play. We’ll apply pressure, because you have to deal with pressure to succeed. But we’ll stay away from stress. We’ll stay away from anxiety."
It appears to be working, because according to King the first few words out of Bortles' mouth is about how there is no stress or anxiety.
"I just go out there every day and try to get better," Bortles told King.
He's already made significant strides from OTAs to training camp and now to preseason games. Bortles has answered every bell so far, but his biggest test yet will come Friday evening.