Pederson confirmed that Cooper Hodges won't need knee surgery for his patella injury. He did acknowledge the possibility that “Tugboat” could end up on injured reserve this season. However, at this time he would not confirm whether it would be a long-term IR scenario (where Hodges would be unable to rejoin the roster for the remainder of the season) or a short-term IR scenario (where he could potentially rejoin the team at a later date).
Pederson says he’s not sure how much him and GM Baalke will be scouring the waiver wire for other teams’ players next week. A lot depends on them guessing an accurate timetable for some injured #Jaguars players returning.— Eugene Frenette (@GeneFrenette) August 24, 2023
While discussing the offensive line, Pederson avoided putting a specific timetable on Josh Wells' return but confirmed he would "continue to miss some time" with his abductor injury. Additionally, the team continues to monitor the progression of both Tyler Shatley (AFIB) and Ben Bartch (ACL). Bartch told Mia O'Brien he expects to play this coming Saturday; more great news up front.
One "Quick Hit" I forgot...— Mia O'Brien (@MiaOBrienTV) August 23, 2023
Ben Bartch has been a full participant all week for the first time since coming off PUP. Expects to play Saturday. Also clarified: he tore his ACL & MPFL, not a patella tendon
1-on-1 with him coming to @1010XL Video Channels https://t.co/Oioz5NeQYc
Pederson also confirmed that Antonio Johnson is "close" to returning, but "hamstrings can be tricky." He also provided a positive update that DaVon Hamilton should be returning to the facilities next week:
“He's doing extremely well. Obviously, it's a non-football-related injury. He's doing extremely well and our doctor said that he could be back in the building as early as next week, so we're happy for that.”
While this is great news for the Jaguars and Hamilton's overall healing progression, Pederson would not provide a projected return date at this juncture. It is still unknown if Hamilton will be available to practice or suit up in week one at this time.
No update was provided on Foley Fatukasi (foot). As of Wednesday, Fatukasi was present at practice in a reportedly precautionary walking boot. Per a prior report, Foley is scheduled to shed the boot sometime this week but is not scheduled to play this Saturday.
Roster Cuts/Positional Battles
With NFL roster cuts fast approaching next Tuesday, August 29th, many fans and media alike are curious about what could break any ties between similarly graded players. When asked about what factors the team takes into consideration when it comes down to roster cuts, Pederson provided a little clarity:
“I mean, there's a few things you look at. How well they attack the day, as far as practice goes, attentive in meetings, can they play through a little injury in practice. In games, do they take themselves out, you know because of a little hiccup in their body. You know, it's more than just the games. You know, that's the easy part. Sometimes it's the off the field stuff that we look at, you know. Can a player be trusted?...you gotta be able to count on those 48 guys, that they're gonna be there on Sunday.”
This is a curious statement, as there are some truly close camp battles currently taking place involving players whose off-the-field actions may impact the winner of the role or a roster spot. The Jaguars currently have a back-end of the roster cornerback and special teams battle between Chris Claybrooks, Montaric Brown, and TreVaugn Campbell, where a final decision could be impacted by off-the-field issues with Claybrooks, and an offensive tackle battle between Cam Robinson and Walker Little, where Cam's suspension complicates the evaluation.
The wide receiver battle for the sixth spot between Elijah Cook, Jacob Harris, Seth Williams, and Tim Jones is popcorn-worthy and could come down to what occurs in practice more so than the games.
According to Pederson, many end-of-roster battles could likely come down to special teams play.
“When evaluating some of those young guys and role guys, special teams becomes an important factor there.”
When asked specifically about the slot corner play, Pederson outlined his plan to rotate both Tre Herndon and Gregory Junior on Saturday to get an extended look at the latter:
“I know who Tre (Herndon) is, I've seen him play. I wanna see Greg Junior....It’s kind of a fine line between those two. Both are good players and both have had good camps. We wanna see both in there, not necessarily on a rotating basis but maybe a couple of series, then get the next guy in there a couple of series, then the next guy in there then we can make an evaluation there.”
To be clear, Pederson seemed careful not to call this an open positional battle or competition, as the comment seemed more framed at getting an extended look at the team's depth pieces. However, you never really know, as Junior has arguably earned an opportunity to compete for the role.
“This is a big game, you know because if Miami comes out and wants to play their starters, which I anticipate them doing, I want to see some of our younger players going against starting-caliber players in this league. That's another way of evaluating the roster that you have.”
As a side note - during Pederson’s press conference, the Dolphins confirmed their intent to play their starters this week.
Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel tells reporters his plan is to play Tua Tagovailoa and starters “more than a series but less than a half” in preseason finale vs. Jaguars Saturday.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) August 24, 2023
That's it for today Big Cat Country! Good news is on the horizon, as the Jaguars aim to be healthy for week one and will face off against starters for the first time this season. What matchups are you most interested in seeing on Saturday?