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London Calls: Jaguars make trip across the pond to take on Dolphins

It will be a first for many on the team, an opportunity to travel abroad and play football in London.

NFL: London Games-City Views Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While certainly, when the Jaguars get set to take on the Miami Dolphins in London on Sunday it will be all business, the large majority of the team’s roster will be heading there for the first time ever, at least as an NFL athlete.

In total, the Jaguars are carrying just 26 players on its 53-man roster that has made the trip across the pond. Of those 26, 16 of them made the trip with the Jaguars either in 2018 or 2019, the last two times the team has made the trip overseas.

Just 15 of those that have made the trip previously with the Jaguars ultimately made the trip this year, however, due to an injury to middle linebacker Myles Jack.

For many, it will be an opportunity to experience something they haven’t before. Jaguars rookie QB Trevor Lawrence has never been overseas and has only been out of the country once, this year when he and his wife Melissa went on their honeymoon.

“It’s kind of ironic we’re going all the way to London to play a team from Miami,” Lawrence quipped on Wednesday. “That’s the one thing I thought about, but we’re excited obviously. I haven’t been that many places, especially outside of the country, so it’s going to be really cool and to play a game over there is going to be really exciting.”

Lawrence talked about the fans that come to the games in London, the excitement level and the atmosphere the team will be walking into when they make their way to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. It will also be the longest flight Lawrence has taken, making the trip there on the team charter Thursday evening this week.

“Obviously, the main thing is to go and get our first win, go win a game, but we are excited to go out there and play.”

For Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, the trip will be his second time out to Europe, his first coming as a member of the Notre Dame coaching staff when the team went to Dublin to take on Navy in 1996. His concern this week has been about his players, and their ability to remain healthy making the long flight overseas.

“We had a team meeting yesterday (Tuesday) about the whole sports performance model, how to take care of yourself,” Meyer said on Wednesday. “We have to keep these guys awake when we get over there. So, I’m concerned about all that stuff.”

The last time Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen took the trip to London to play a football game, he was the defensive line coach for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens would, ironically, play Jacksonville during the matchup.

The 2017 matchup between the two teams wouldn’t go Cullen’s way, with the Jaguars beating them 44-7.

“Well, I hope this trip’s a lot better than the last one. You guys know that. It wasn’t good at the last one we were over there,” Cullen said on Thursday. “I think both of us [Ravens and Jaguars] were 3-0 and it wasn’t good. It was 44-7 if I recall. This one will be a lot better.”

For Jacksonville, they’ll have to hope to not be jet-lagged, but the experience of the London adventure will certainly be on their mind.

Over the week, the local media asked several players about the trip overseas, and for some, their first football game outside of the country.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

WR Jamal Agnew:

“I honestly haven’t heard much, but I’m excited. It’s going to be my first time out of the country other than I used to go to Mexico a lot growing up just because I grew up in Southern California. But it’s going to be my first time being out of the country so I’m just excited for that.”

DT DaVon Hamilton:

“All I really know is it’s a really long flight. This is my first time leaving the country, so it’s going to be very different for me. I don’t particularly like long flights to begin with, so it’s going to be different. But they just told us just to have fun. I mean it’s going to be a very different experience, especially like food and whatnot, but other than that, just going out and having fun.”

OLB K’Lavon Chaisson:

“It’s a long flight. That’s what I've been thinking about. But I think they were talking about the time difference, of course, and just how we’ll be playing at 9 o’clock in the morning here. Just last week—who was that? The [Atlanta] Falcons and the [New York] Jets were playing and I was like, ‘Is this highlights or is this real?’

“So, that’s going to be something different, but I’m excited. I’ve never been out of the country, so this is amazing. The things that football can do [for] you, to take you to a place you’ve never been and take you to things you’ve never seen. So, I’m excited. I can’t wait to go out there and compete and expand my horizons to see different things I’ve never seen before.”

TE Dan Arnold:

This will be my first time. I’m kind of excited. The biggest thing for me, as I start to get up here, [being] in the league for years, is just, ‘Okay, what’s my recovery going to be like this week?’ So, it’ll be a new adventure for me, but I’m excited for it and I think it'll be a really cool experience.”

LB Damien Wilson:

“It is both really. You get 17 games out of the year and probably half of them are away but how many are away like this. It is definitely exciting.”