Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sports

Bortles draws record crowd

JACKSONVILLE — Fans waited in line to get in, filled every seat available and then packed the perimeter of the practice fields for a glimpse of quarterback Blake Bortles.

The crowd kept growing and growing, forcing the Jaguars to open an additional gate and create more space. Some onlookers even stood outside the fence for a peek.

It was the kind of buzz unseen at Jaguars camp since the franchise's inception in 1995.

The Jaguars announced 6,214 in attendance for the final day of a two-day rookie minicamp that ended Saturday. That's nearly 4,000 more than any previous turnout for a rookie camp and about 1,700 more than the record set in several training camp practices. "Are you kidding me? That is awesome, man," coach Gus Bradley said.

It's easy to fathom, just hard to pinpoint, what brought so many to the practice field on a relatively cool and cloudless day.

Owner Shad Khan, team president Mark Lamping, general manager Dave Caldwell and Bradley have fans believing the team is on the verge of better days. They drafted Bortles, the former UCF quarterback, third overall last weekend and added receivers Marqise Lee of USC and Allen Robinson of Penn State in the second round.

The city and team are installing $63 million scoreboards that are expected to be the largest in the world and have other plans to renovate an aging stadium that lacks unique features and fan-friendly amenities.

"You've got to credit Shad and Mark and Dave and Gus," said former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli, who was on hand for Saturday's practice. "What they've done on the business side and the football side is remarkable. The energy is here, Gus Bradley is infectious, and when you draft a quarterback No. 3 overall, you're going to get a bit of excitement."

Bortles completed 12 of 18 passes during 11-on-11 drills in his second practice, his numbers slightly hurt by two drops.

saints: The team surprised Tulane safety Devon Walker by signing him to an official contract Saturday afternoon —just hours before Walker realized another dream by graduating. Walker was paralyzed from the neck down after a collision with a teammate during a 2012 game against Tulsa.

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