JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blake Bortles wouldn't go down without a fight.
The Jacksonville Jaguars' recently demoted quarterback led the offense to a pair of touchdowns in the second half in his bid to beat out Chad Henne to regain the starting job. Bortles completed 12 of 16 passes for 125 yards in the Jaguars' 24-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers at EverBank Field Thursday night. He also threw an interception that was nearly returned for a touchdown and another on a two-point conversion attempt.
All of Bortles' work came in the second half against Carolina's reserves, though he did play behind the Jaguars' top offensive line. Still, it was a performance that we've seen before: some good throws, some questionable decisions and a turnover.
Was he impressive enough to convince coach Doug Marrone to re-install him as a starter, or will Marrone pick Henne, who wasn't impressive but didn't commit a turnover against the Panthers' first-team defense?
QB depth chart: Henne was solid (8-of-14, 73 yards) though he was victimized by a drop on a pass that could have been a touchdown. The most important thing he did was not turn over the ball. Bortles, however, did and it led to a Carolina touchdown in the third quarter. Bortles tried to squeeze a pass past defenders to Allen Hurns, but he threw it slightly behind Hurns. Cornerback Zack Sanchez intercepted the ball after it bounced off Hurns and returned to inside the Jaguars' 5-yard line. Bortles rebounded with a good drive, though, scrambling out of pressure and hitting tight end Ben Koyack for a 30-yard gain and dropping in a pass in the back of the end zone to Shane Wynn.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Jaguars looked : Shaky. The offensive line didn't play well for the second week in a row, with right tackle Jermey Parnell committing a false start penalty and giving up a sack (Henne held onto the ball a bit too long). Left tackle Cam Robinson gave up a sack, and right guard A.J. Cann was penalized for holding in just the first half. The running backs averaged just 3.9 yards per carry on offense (not counting Corey Grant's 51-yard fake punt) in the first half, as well. Marrone was apparently displeased enough to keep the starting offensive line on the field for the entire game.
One reason to be concerned: The run defense was shaky for the second consecutive week. The Panthers' first-team offense ran for 72 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry in the first half. Jonathan Stewart ripped off a 31-yard run on the Panthers' second play from scrimmage and the Panthers ran the ball eight times for 54 yards on their opening drive. The Jaguars' defensive line got pushed around and the linebackers had some trouble dealing with the shifty Christian McCaffrey.
That guy could start: The battle at left guard between Patrick Omameh and Luke Bowanko didn't seem to get any clearer on Thursday night. Both had their moments, including Omameh leading the way while pulling on Chris Ivory's 10-yard run, but the competition likely will extend throughout the next week before a starter is named.
Rookie watch: Receiver Keelan Cole got the start because of an injury to Marqise Lee, which seems to indicate that the undrafted rookie has won a spot on the roster. However, his status may be a little shakier than he hoped after he dropped another long pass against the Panthers. Henne threw a deep pass down the left sideline over his shoulder and he couldn't make the catch. He also dropped a touchdown pass from Henne the week before. Those two big drops won't necessarily knock him off the roster but he has little margin of error now.
Hurns, Ramsey makes their debuts: Hurns missed the first two preseason games -- he suffered what was believed to be a concussion in joint practices with New England -- and there was speculation that the team was trying to trade him. Hurns didn't start Thursday night but he did play and caught three passes for 28 yards. Ramsey started camp on the physically unable to perform list as he continued to recover from surgery to repair a core muscle injury and missed the first two preseason games but started against the Panthers. He played the first defensive series and made one tackle.
Wynn impressive again: Wynn, who caught three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown and had a 48-yard kickoff return, likely won't make this roster but he deserves a shot somewhere. His size may be a hindrance but the guy seems to catch everything and makes plays. He has done it throughout camp and he added the touchdown catch against the Panthers. The Jaguars are deep at receiver, so unless there's a rash of injuries he won't be able to make it here but he's put enough tape together that he could get a call from another team.