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Blake Bortles forcing Jacksonville Jaguars' hand

If the Jacksonville Jaguars' brass are bluffing about starting bridge quarterback Chad Hennefor the entire 2014 season, rookie Blake Bortles is forcing their hand.

Playing like an evolutionary Ben Roethlisberger, Bortles impressed for the second consecutive week, showing pocket poise, command of the offense, ideal size, mobility and a cannon arm that allows him to make even the toughest NFL throws. His skills are a perfect match for offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch's scheme, which relies heavily on boot-action.

Bortles finished 11 of 17 for 160 yards, bringing his two-game total to 18 of 28 (64.2 percent) for 277 yards (9.89 per attempt).

Operating a no-huddle attack, Henne moved the offense at will for a quarter and a half, completing 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown pass. He did nothing that would give the coaching staff cause for pause even if Bortles' stellar play means a tough decision is coming in three weeks.

In the face of general manager David Caldwell's determination not to rush Bortles' development, NFL Media's Jeff Darlington asked this offseason, "What if he looks like Marino in '83?"

Caldwell's response: "We'll know."

Darlington believes Bortles can only open the season as the starter if Henne suffers an injury or the No. 3 overall draft pick proves to be an obvious star.

Even if it's already obvious to Jacksonville fans, it's on the organization's brain trust to conclude that the future is now.

Here's what else you need to know from the Bears' 20-19 win Thursday night:

  1. With Cecil Shorts and second-round draft pick Allen Robinson still nursing hamstring injuries, undrafted rookie Allen Hurns started opposite Marqise Lee at wide receiver for the Jaguars. Hurns will likely drop down the depth chart, but this is a sign that he will make the team. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah noted early this month that the front office feels strongly that there will be a big role for Hurns, who played under Fisch at Miami.
  1. Toby Gerhart rushed six times for 19 yards and reeled in one pass for eight yards in his Jaguars preseason debut. Gerhart was exactly as billed, showing power and straight-ahead speed between the tackles. Hopefully Fisch learned not to try perimeter runs with Gerhart, who lacks lateral agility.
  1. Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks looked like the clubhouse leader for preseason MVP honors after tormentingBuccaneers guard Jamon Meredith last week. He had a tougher time blowing up plays against Bears guard Kyle Long.
  1. Shaun Draughn continues to work ahead of fourth-round rookie Ka'Deem Carey as the Bears' No. 2 running back. Two of Carey's runs totaled 25 yard and a touchdown. He averaged 1.0 yard per carry on the other 11.
  1. The Bears' run defense looks much improved from last year's historically bad unit. Competing for the starting middle linebacker job, Jon Bostic tore through left tackle Luke Joeckel to stop Gerhart for a 4-yard loss on an early third-and-1 play. The pass defense was troubling, though, surrendering 244 yards to Henne and Bortles in the first half.
  1. Coach Marc Trestman wanted to get a long look at Jimmy Clausen after the former Panthers second-rounder threw up a 134.6 passer rating against the Eagleslast week. Although the big plays were missing Thursday night, Clausen was competent enough to hold off Jordan Palmer for the second spot on the depth chart.
  1. With Marquess Wilsonsidelined by a fractured clavicle, kick returner Eric Weems worked as the No. 3 receiver in the first-team offense. The Bears can do better, perhaps with Josh Morgan climbing the depth chart. The opening-day third receiver might just be on another roster right now.

*The latest "Around the League Podcast" broke down the biggest position battles and ranked the best backup QBs in the league. *

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