Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback Trevor Lawrence is essentially a coin flip to play in Sunday’s game.
Lawrence practiced on Friday as he progresses through his concussion protocol, and coach Doug Pederson said his status will all come down to if he passes his tests on Saturday.
If so, Lawrence can play. If not, C.J. Beathard will be the starting quarterback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“C.J. has been a pro,” Pederson said on Friday. “That is what you expect out of your backup. He is no stranger to this situation this year, and in his career. He has handled the week well.”
Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (concussion) back at practice on Friday. Still has not cleared concussion protocol. pic.twitter.com/xbAiTLBI3p— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) December 22, 2023
Pederson said the team has largely handled this week of preparation like any other, not letting the uncertainty of Lawrence’s status impact the task at hand.
“There have been no distractions,” Pederson said. “Guys are focused on their job. With situations like this, it is up to the player himself and the healing. It is business as usual.”
Playing with their backs to the wall seems to be a position the team likes to be in. While the fans may languish about losses and limping into the playoffs, Pederson is confident that last season’s resurgence can be replicated and drawn from during the last three regular season games this year.
“It seems like this is a comfort level of theirs, and that is OK,” Pederson said. “As long as they go out and compete. That is all you can ask for. They have handled this week well. It is just a matter of going and playing.”
Lawrence was not the only injured player that practiced on Friday.
Receiver Zay Jones participated in practice to the side while rehabbing his hamstring. Pederson said Jones is “trending well” with his injury but is unlikely to play on Sunday.
Tight end Brenton Strange however is “good to go.”
Defensive backs Tyson Campbell and Andre Cisco both “had good days” and the team will wait to see where they are as the week winds down. Fellow defensive back Christian Braswell is “really close” to returning.
Injuries have planted guys that the Jags’ coaching staff may have liked to redshirt during the 2023 season on the active roster.
Rookie receivers Parker Washington and Elijah Cooks both spent much of the first part of the season inactive and in street clothes on the sidelines. Their newfound participation on the active roster helps highlight a broader picture on the value of being ready to play at a moment’s notice.
“Parker continues to improve the more he plays, Elijah is the same way,” Pederson said. “When the season started, they were both inactive. Now they are active. It goes to show you that anyone on the 53 has to be ready to play. Everybody doesn’t get the same level of gameplan, but they still have to know a certain aspect of it. You never know when your number will be called.”
Receiver Calvin Ridley will be the elder statesmen in the receiver room on Sunday if Jones can’t go, outside of Jamal Agnew.
As potentially the team’s number one guy, Pederson expects the veteran to go out and be himself no matter who may be lining up around him or under center.
“Just be Calvin,” Pederson said. “Don’t be anything more, don’t do anything less. Just be Calvin. Just do what we ask him to do. Be a part of the offense.”
There may be distractions outside of the Jags’ locker room, but seemingly not in it. Ready to snap a three-game losing streak, Pederson noted his team was as focused as ever to go out and play.
Somewhat luckily, this Sunday’s game is a road contest. This year, the team has only suffered one loss while away from home.
Pederson said traveling helps pool a team together, and can only stand to help galvanize the group as they navigate uncertain waters over the next 24 to 48 hours.
“It does keep the team together,” Pederson said of playing on the road. “We have had good experiences. Playing on the road does that to teams. With the uncertainty, it can only help.”