After tiring rookie season, Blake Bortles trains hard to prep for Year 2

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blake Bortles felt like he never stopped throwing a football.

From summer workouts to fall practice to the regular season at Central Florida to the NFL combine to his pro day to private workouts with NFL teams to rookie minicamp to OTAs to training camp to the 16-game NFL season, Bortles' days were filled with the same thing. Drop back, plant, throw.

Again and again and again.

By the time he walked off the field after the Jacksonville Jaguars' season-ending loss to the Houston Texans on Dec. 28, Bortles' right arm was tired, sore and badly in need of a break. That's why he spent the first several weeks of the offseason pretty much doing nothing before working with several quarterback coaches to improve the mechanical flaws that dogged him throughout his rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"My arm kind of deteriorated during the season," he said on Tuesday afternoon as he and most of his teammates reported for the beginning of the voluntary offseason conditioning program. "It didn't affect anything. It was just, I think, a product of throwing for two years straight without any break.

"Took some time off, let it heal, and then went kind of [to seek] out some proper mechanics on how to make it never hurt again."

That was among Bortles' goals heading into his second season, along with fixing his footwork and fine-tuning his throwing motion. Those were things he wasn't able to work on during his first season because there wasn't time. It was all about game-planning and practicing for opponents each week.

Bortles spent more than two months in California working with quarterback guru Tom House, who is in the news now for working with Tim Tebow, and quarterback coach Jordan Palmer. Bortles said he spent five consecutive days with House, who also has worked with Tom Brady and Drew Brees, and then worked with him three days a week for the rest of the two months. He also threw with Palmer once or twice a week.

"There was a lot to do," Bortles said. "Obviously once you start playing things kind of start to deteriorate, especially when you're trying to work on things. It's hard to work on things and play at the same time. This was an opportunity to go focus and solely just pay attention to that stuff. You didn't have to worry about running a 40 or training for a shuttle or any of that stuff, so it was good to be able to focus on footwork and some mechanics and stuff.

"A point of emphasis was how do I take stress off my arm and use my whole body, generate power from the ground through my legs and creating torque and doing all that stuff?"

Bortles said he has seen tape of himself throwing with House and Cameron and he has already noticed a difference.

"Last year you're watching film and I was like, 'Ah, that doesn't look good, but there's not time to fix it,'" Bortles said. "Now watching it, there was minor things, changes that I made that allowed me to kind of, I guess, throw the ball more effortlessly.

"... It was kind of tightening mechanics, throwing with not just all arm and kind of using the whole body and figuring out how to do that and really come up with the checklist to be able to say it was a bad throw and this is what went wrong and how I could fix it."

One other thing Bortles changed in the offseason was his weight. He went from 250 pounds at the end of December to 238 pounds on Tuesday morning and dropped his body fat percentage from 17 percent to 10 percent.

"A little bit leaner," Bortles said. "I guess I was, when I left here, I was probably, I don't know, I was kind of fat."

He looks good and feels good now, and coach Gus Bradley said he has noticed a difference in Bortles, physically and mentally.

"He feels really good about his offseason, and that's a good sign," Bradley said. "He's not there yet, but I think he has a clearer view or clearer feel of what it should be like. I think now when he goes out and does a routine he has a very set structured routine that he truly believes in. I think last year, at times, he was trying to figure that out. That's one example. He feels more confident. He always has confidence, but I think he's even more confident in what he can bring."