Doug Pederson said his squad has handled coming back stateside well, and is preparing at a high level for the battle for the top spot in the AFC South.
“It got better each day,” Pederson said of practice during his Friday press conference. “I felt that the guys are getting their bodies back. It takes time. Guys have done a nice job this week.”
Injuries were the big topic on Friday, as Pederson announced offensive lineman Walker Little and wide receiver Zay Jones will not play this weekend.
Both players are nursing knee injuries and are “further away” than others from getting back to full health.
Someone who is ready to play however is Dawuane Smoot, who “should be good to go” for Sunday’s tilt.
Smoot comes back at a good time for a Jaguars’ defense that has played exceptionally well through five weeks, but needs more help in terms of rushing the passer and generating sacks.
“He brings a veteran leadership presence out there,” Pederson said of Smoot. “You can play him in base defense. You can play him in nickel. Obviously his production comes from being inside on third down. I don’t think you want to put him on a pitch count, but you have to monitor and let him get comfortable with the game.”
Linebacker Devin Lloyd will also play on Sunday, albeit with a solid cast on his arm. Pederson said he hopes his second-year linebacker isn’t relied on to make any game-saving interceptions.
“(It) doesn’t change anything,” Pederson said of Lloyd’s cast. “He says he feels fine, feels comfortable. Probably catching a football is not the most ideal with the cast.”
Rookie corner Christian Braswell will not be available and is “still nursing the hamstring.”
Defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton is “feeling good” but is still a ways away from returning to the lineup. Pederson said fans may see Hamilton after the bye week, which is during the first week of Nov.
Sunday’s game will be a big matchup defensively for the Jags, as they face Colts’ backup quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Pederson was asked why he thinks his defense is doing so well, particularly in terms of not committing penalties, and the coach pointed to the way the team practices.
“There is a bit more heightened awareness,” Pederson said of not committing penalties. “Our offense uses a lot of cadence so your defense is used to that. It is understanding the defense and where you need to be and making a conscious effort of understanding where you should be. That is what it is all about.”
On the flip side, the offense has done a solid job of drawing penalties on opposing defenses, particularly Calvin Ridley. Pederson compared Ridley’s ability to draw flags to a two-time Super Bowl champion.
“Calvin has four, five for the season,” Pederson said. “It is incredible. The last time I was around a receiver like that was Torrey Smith. One thing Calvin does a nice job of is positioning his body. You would love to have a completion but you will take that chunk as well.”