Friday will be a huge day for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As the team licks its wounds from Monday, the team is going to be shuffling a large chunk of its starting roster for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
Most notably, quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been limited in practice so far this week, but hit the practice field again on Friday.
Lawrence is questionable to play on Sunday, and will be a game-time decision to play.
Coach Doug Pederson said whether or not Lawrence plays will largely be based on how Lawrence himself feels.
“Feeling good,” Pederson said on Friday of his starting quarterback. “We will see how he does today. Kind of base it on our medical staff, how Trevor feels and if he can go or not.”
Last year, Lawrence also suffered a similar ankle injury and played through it. Even this season Lawrence suffered a knee injury that he played through.
Pederson said the team has history with Lawrence on how he deals with injuries. The coach did little to rule out his starter completely for Sunday.
“It is more on Trevor and how he feels and talking to the doctors,” Pederson said. “We have gone through this with him. We did it last year with the toe, we did it this year with his knee. If history suggests, he has played the next week. It shows his physical toughness, mental toughness. It does send a message to the rest of the team in a good way. The fact that he is willing and able to put himself out there for his team speaks volumes.”
As for the rest of the injuries, the list continues to grow on guys who will not play against the Browns.
Tight end Brenton Strange is “probably out.” Left tackle Walker Little hasn’t practiced this week and will “probably not” play as well.
Corner Tre Herndon is in the concussion protocol, corner Christian Braswell is not ready to go after just recently being activated off IR and corner Tyson Campbell’s status will be determined by how he practices Friday.
Pederson pointed to two different players he thinks will have to shoulder much of the load in place of the starters who are injured.
Receiver Parker Washington is someone Pederson thinks did a nice job on Monday and will have to mature quickly with Kirk out.
In Washington’s first real offensive game action, he caught six passes for 61 yards and a score.
“He has embraced his role, this opportunity,” Pederson said of his rookie receiver. “It means a lot to him. He takes it to heart. (Wide receivers coach) Chad Hall does a great job preparing all the guys. We try and not overload him too much with a lot of things and put him in positions where he can have success. He has handled it well.”
The other guy Pederson needs to step up is offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland.
With Little’s status in the air moving forward, and Cam Robinson already sidelined, Cleveland has been forced to get work at left tackle in practice.
“We will see,” Pederson said of moving Cleveland to left tackle. “We are getting him reps out there. (We are) getting Tyler Shatley some reps, getting Blake Hance some reps out there. Cole Van Lanen has been getting some reps. Bunch of combinations of guys.”
As for whether Cleveland is fine playing tackle as opposed to his usual position of left guard, Pederson thought the switch could work if needed.
“He seems to look fine, comfortable,” Pederson said. “When he was drafted, tackle was going to be his spot but he was moved inside and he has been a guard ever since. The versatility of the offensive line and the players we have that can do that benefits us in situations like this.”
Pederson said he didn’t think the team was going to need to pull up anyone off the practice squad this week. He thinks his active roster can be competitive enough as it stands.
“We are giving guys reps who we think could possibly be in those roles,” Pederson said of the Jags’ backups.
Friday will be a huge litmus test for Pederson’s team ahead of this weekend. With as many injured players as the team has, the starters this weekend could look vastly different than those who trotted out on Monday.
Still, Pederson has confidence in his squad to get the job done.
“Today is a big day for us,” Pederson said of Friday’s practice. “We have to get through today. (The team) has responded well in practice. I am looking forward to this weekend.”