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Doug Pederson previews Jaguars’ ‘physical’ week with Lions

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson spoke before practice and preseason game in Detroit

Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

It was always going to be a chippy week.

As the Jaguars began joint practices with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday in full pads, the expectation was that things were going to be highly competitive.

With the Lions holding the recent in-season edge over the Jaguars, there might be a little bit for the team in teal and white to prove.

When speaking to the media before the first practice, coach Doug Pederson said while he hopes things don’t get out of control, he and his team know what they are getting into.

“It is not about who is the tougher man, it is about getting good work in,” Pederson said. “It is going to be physical. That is the way padded practices are. Our guys understand that we are here to work and get some quality time done.”

Pederson said he and the team have not thought too much about last year’s loss to Detroit, in an ailing 40-14 fashion.

That game however lit a spark within his team that sent the Jaguars to the playoffs. All Detroit could do was watch them.

“We didn’t play our best football for whatever reason,” Pederson said of last year’s game against the Lions. “There are moments throughout an NFL year, whatever it might be, that spurs a little bit inside everybody. We seemed to figure it out from there and flip it around after that.”

This offseason, Pederson and Lions’ coach Dan Campbell hopped on the phone and both knew they wanted to practice against one another.

The two teams are AFC and NFC counterparts, with an exciting young core and a newer coach to the team that has brought wins for the first time in a while.

“We both expressed interest to do a joint practice,” Pederson said. “Obviously for us, getting out of northeast Florida and 100-degree temperatures, is good for the team. We both agreed we wanted to do this. We want to get some good solid work in and compete against each other.”

A key point of emphasis for the Jaguars will be how the team’s three quarterbacks compete against the Lions’ defense.

The Lions now boast last year’s interceptions leader in former Eagles corner C.J. Gardner-Johnson, along with former Steelers corner Cameron Sutton.

Eventually, a team can learn to play against itself, so playing against brand-new bodies can only help the Jaguars’ gunslingers develop ahead of the year.

“The biggest thing is you get to go against a different look,” Pederson said. “A different presentation, different guys. We have been going against our own guys now for about three weeks. It is just refreshing to have a different perspective. It will be good for not only Trevor (Lawrence), but for C.J. (Beathard) and Nate (Rourke) as well.”

Many eyes will be on the battle for the backup quarterback, after Rourke’s superhero performance on Saturday against the Cowboys.

Pederson, a former NFL quarterback, said he really likes the ability shown thus far by his first-year passer.

“There is some toughness there,” Pederson said of Rourke. “Mental and physical. His ability to lead the football team. He was able to perform under some pressure, under some duress. Made some really good throws. Just exciting to see from a young player that is trying to make a spot. One thing I appreciate about Nate is that he is humble and he comes to work to get better.”

A similar emphasis will be placed on the skill position battles from either team.

While Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk compete against Sutton and Gardner-Johnson, Pederson is excited to see how his corners– namely Tyson Campbell– compete against guys like Amon-Ra St. Brown and Marvin Jones Jr.

“We have a lot of young secondary guys that we want to see against this caliber receiving group and sort of vice versa,” Pederson said. “Obviously up front, the big guys are going to compete. Our offensive line versus their defensive line and vice versa, those are all things we want to see. We are just trying to get better.”

Ridley and Gardner-Johnson went back and forth all day according to those in attendance, but Ridley got the last laugh with this long score:

Jones Jr., the former Lion turned Jaguar turned back into a Lion, is missed on the Jaguars' sideline according to Pederson.

“Can’t say enough great things about Marvin,” Pederson said. “What a great leader. Helped us get into the postseason last year. Wish him the best.”

Another Lions player Pederson was going to watch was second-year defensive end Aiden Hutchinson.

Hutchinson was famously drafted behind Jaguars No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker, their careers forever to be linked. Hutchinson had half a sack in last year’s contest.

“Obviously a great player,” Pederson said of Hutchinson. “The sky is the limit. He really makes that defense a little more solid.”

A defender on the Jaguars that stood out was second-year linebacker Devin Lloyd, who snagged a pick on Lion’s veteran quarterback Jared Goff.

Ridley and Gardner had a fun post-practice exchange:

The Jaguars will continue to practice against the Lions on Thursday. They’ll face off at 1 p.m. EST Saturday, on NFL Network.