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Blake Bortles encouraged by development of young receivers

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars-Training Camp Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars relied heavily on young receivers last season with the season ending injury to Allen Robinson and injuries that left Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee missing a combined eight games last year.

Rookie wide receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole and first-year player Jaydon Mickens saw significant time, with Cole leading the team in receiving yards and Westbrook starting five games towards the end of the season. Mickens filled the role of punt returner in the middle of the year and even as slot receiver when the Jaguars were without their top three options down the stretch.

The young receivers performed admirably but there was still a steep learning curve — one that quarterback Blake Bortles says the players have succeeded in overcoming.

“Yes, it has been impressive. As far as Dede [Westbrook] and Keelan [Cole] and even Rashad [Greene] even though he has been here a couple years. Those guys getting in there and there were times last year where you kind of got that look in the huddle where it is like, ‘Hey, I have no idea what you were talking about.’ Looking at them this year, they are running out of huddle before I can finish saying the play because they know what they have. Everybody was good. We had not done signals in months, and we threw a couple out there today and Dede knew them all immediately. It is impressive what they have learned and what they retained.”

It’ll be fun to see what these young guys are able to bring in 2018 after being thrown to the lions in the second half of 2017.