Jaguars shuffling O-line, sticking with QB Chad Henne over rookie Blake Bortles

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida — The Jacksonville Jaguars are making changes — just not the one many outsiders want.

Coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday that rookie Luke Bowanko will start at center against Indianapolis and veteran Sam Young will start at right tackle. Chad Henne, however, remains the starting quarterback ahead of rookie Blake Bortles.

Bowanko replaces journeyman Jacques McClendon, who beat out Bowanko and Mike Brewster for the job in the preseason. Young replaces Cam Bradfield, who was waived Tuesday after starting the first two games this season and 23 games the previous two years.

"If a guy's not playing very well and it's been a consistent pattern, we owe it to the team to make changes," Bradley said.

It got everyone's attention in the locker room.

"It really reiterates the fact that this is a high-performance business, and if you don't perform at your highest level or you don't live up to the standards that we set, you're not going to be part of this group," linebacker Paul Posluszny said.

Bradley made the moves after one of the worst offensive performances in team history.

Jacksonville allowed a franchise-record 10 sacks and managed just 148 yards — including a 63-yard, busted-coverage touchdown pass from Henne to tight end Marcedes Lewis — in a 41-10 loss at Washington on Sunday.

Coaches credited six of the sacks to linemen getting beat in one-on-one situations. Of the other four sacks, one was on Henne for holding the ball too long, one was on a missed block by a running back and two were on receivers running wrong routes.

The sacks and the offensive ineptitude stirred debate about whether the team should turn to Bortles, the third overall selection in May's NFL draft.

"I don't think we're worried about necessarily setting (Bortles) up for failure," offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. "I think we're just worried about making sure that we don't blame Chad for something that maybe Chad wasn't responsible for."

Henne completed 14 of 28 passes for 193 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He also scrambled three times for a team-high 17 yards.

The Jaguars (0-2) have said since selecting Bortles that they don't want to throw him into the huddle before he's ready.

They also would prefer having things more settled around him.

They haven't had receiver Cecil Shorts III (hamstring) and right tackle Austin Pasztor (hand) for the first two games, and now they're without tight end Marcedes Lewis (ankle) for at least the next two months.

So they have played with three rookie receivers — Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson — and one of the least experienced offensive lines in the league. Left tackle Luke Joeckel has seven career starts, and rookie right guard Brandon Linder has two. Bowanko will make his first start against the Colts, while Young will make his fifth in five seasons.

And with Lewis out, rookie tight end Marcel Jensen is expected to play significantly.

"We understand we're young," said Fisch, who acknowledged that all the new faces have prompted some offensive tweaks. "We have to understand that we don't have much to pull from in terms of experience. We can't say, 'Remember last year when this happened?' ... I don't know if it's scaled back as much as it's kind of adapting to the personnel that we have right now."

One more personnel change is coming, too. It's not a matter of if, but when, regarding Bortles.

"I understand this," Henne said. "If you start winning, you stay in it. If you keep losing and the offense isn't going where it is supposed to be going, I understand there is going to be a switch being made. I'm fully aware of that, and my job is to just get everybody on the same page and try to exploit this offense and make some plays out there and score some points."


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