Patriots may have their hands full with Blake Bortles’s feet
FOXBOROUGH — Sizing up Blake Bortles, you’re more likely to think Big Ben than Bullet Bob.
Well, the Jaguars quarterback may throw like Ben Roethlisberger but he also can run like Hayes — OK, maybe not Bob Hayes (arguably Jacksonville’s most famous and favorite native) but he’s pretty darn quick for a 6-foot-5-inch, 236-pounder.
Coming out of Central Florida in 2014, Bortles was known more for his big arm than his swift feet. He twice threw for more than 3,000 yards in a season for the Golden Knights. His career rushing average was 2.9 yards on 195 attempts.
But Bortles, who ran the wing-T offense as a Florida prep star, has become a more versatile weapon as pro, possessing the ability to flip the field with his arm and his legs. His 41-yard scamper last week helped the Jaguars cement a win over the Giants in the Meadowlands.
In NFL history, Bortles owns the third-highest rushing average (6.4) among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts, trailing only Michael Vick (7.0) and Bobby Douglass (6.5). That’s higher than Randall Cunningham (6.4), Colin Kaepernick (6.1), and Donovan McNabb (5.6).
“I’ve always said that’s probably the one aspect of his game that gets overlooked — his ability to run or scramble,’’ said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. “I’m talking about from the media. I don’t think coaches that we play, obviously, overlook it on tape.’’
It certainly hasn’t escaped the attention of Bill Belichick, who has been preparing his club to face mobile quarterbacks for the better part of a month now between Carolina’s Cam Newton and Houston’s Deshaun Watson.
“He is good, yeah,” said the Patriots coach. “He runs well. He’s a big, strong kid. He’s hard to bring down. He can extend plays, so just similar to the quarterbacks we’ve seen, really, the past three weeks, not counting the Giants game, but we’ve seen this three weeks in a row with players that have that type of skill and, yeah, he’s definitely in that category.’’
To keep Bortles – or any mobile quarterback – contained, it takes a group effort, according to Patriots pass-rushing specialist Adrian Clayborn.
“Just keep him in the pocket and rush together,” said Clayborn. “It can’t be one guy, it can’t be two guys, it can’t be three guys, it has to be all four. If you send a blitzer, then he has to be smart. Rush smart, play smart, and keep him in the pocket.’’
Two are questionable
The Patriots had 100 percent attendance at Friday’s practice, a shorts-and-shells session.
Running backs Rex Burkhead (concussion) and Sony Michel (knee) were again limited at the workout and were declared questionable for Sunday. The same goes for right tackle Marcus Cannon (calf) and cornerback Keion Crossen (hamstring).
Tight end Jacob Hollister, who missed the opener because of a hamstring ailment, was upgraded to full participant and likely will make his season debut against Jacksonville.
Safety Nate Ebner (knee) also was upgraded to a full participant.
A valuable Grant
With Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette a game-time decision because of a hamstring issue and T.J. Yeldon popping up on the injury report with an ankle injury Friday, the Jaguars might need to lean on third-stringer Corey Grant, who sometimes gets lost in the Jacksonville backfield shuffle.
“Yeah, he’s not lost in our shuffle,’’ Belichick said. “He’s good. They use him in a lot of different ways. He’s a very productive player in the kicking game and they use him on a lot of their gadget-type plays, reverses and fake punts and so forth.
“So, he’s a guy we need to make sure we do a good job on.’’
Game-time temperatures in Jacksonville are expected to hover around 90 degrees. According to ESPN Stats, Tom Brady has started just one game in his career when it was 90 degrees. It came in Week 2 of the 2005 season, when the Panthers beat New England, 27-17, in Charlotte, N.C. . . . The Jaguars are 11-12 all-time in their home openers and have lost six straight . . . Including the postseason, the Jaguars have won six straight home games, the third-longest active streak in the NFL behind the Patriots (8) and Vikings (7) . . . Patriots top pick Isaiah Wynn, who tore his right Achilles’ tendon against the Eagles in the preseason, posted a picture of himself in a walking boot on Twitter that included #feelgoodfriday . . . Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell played collegiately with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and director of player personnel Nick Caserio at John Carroll University.