JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Pederson was mostly coy when asked Monday about quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s sprained left knee.
Pederson called Lawrence “day to day” and said he was sore but feeling better. Pederson also said he wouldn’t know whether Lawrence would play Thursday night at New Orleans until game time.
When pressed about specifics regarding Lawrence’s injury, Pederson said: “That’s out of my realm. That’s out of my jurisdiction.”
Lawrence hurt his knee on a sack with roughly three minutes remaining in a 37-20 victory over Indianapolis on Sunday. Pederson defended having Lawrence in the game with a 14-point late lead and the play call that had Lawrence rolling out on third-and-7 at the Indy 16 behind an offensive line that was without both starting guards.
Lawrence faked a handoff and was immediately under heavy pressure from Samson Ebukam, who blew past rookie tight end Brenton Strange. Pederson suggested Lawrence should have taken a “short sack” instead of trying to outrun Ebukam, who tackled Lawrence by the left ankle for a 17-yard loss.
“If you don’t feel like you can get outside, you go down,” Pederson said. “So part of that’s on the player, and then we coach that better, we can emphasize that more. But the play call? I’m 100% behind the play call. … It’s a good way of getting your quarterback on the perimeter to get the first down and pretty much ice the game at that point.”
Lawrence completed 20 of 30 passes for 181 yards, with two touchdown passes and an interception in Jacksonville’s third consecutive victory. He wasn’t limping after the game, but he did leave the stadium wearing a knee brace.
“Obviously, you don’t want to see that,” tight end Evan Engram said. “That’s why we just got to finish better, not even be in that position. But he was in good spirits and hopefully he’ll be all right.”
Added receiver Christian Kirk: “He’s tough. I know he’s dealing with whatever he’s dealing with, but pretty sure he’ll be all right.”
Jacksonville’s defense has been the team’s biggest surprise. The unit has been stingy against the run, leads the NFL with 15 takeaways and has allowed 21 or fewer points in five of six games this season.
Travon Walker, the overall No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, has been a catalyst for the D’s progress. Edge rusher Josh Allen (7 sacks), cornerback Darious Williams (3 interceptions) and safety Andre Cisco (3 INTs) have come up huge as well.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Lawrence has been sacked 16 times in six games – none more significant than the last one that knocked him out of the game – and is on pace to shatter his career high of 32 set in 2021. It’s far from the protection Jacksonville wants for its franchise quarterback.
The offensive line used a different starting five for the fourth consecutive week Sunday, with veteran Tyler Shatley subbing in for injured left guard Walker Little. With right guard Brandon Scherff dealing with a left ankle injury, the Jaguars might have to shuffle the unit again before facing New Orleans on Thursday.
Defensive end Dawuane Smoot played 32 snaps in his season debut, an impressive return from a torn Achilles tendon sustained last December. Smoot was credited with two tackles.
“He was good,” Pederson said. “Had a couple plays in there, just settling into the game. That’s one thing that he and I talked about: ‘Don’t try to chase a play. Make plays that come his direction.’ He felt pretty good coming out of the game.
“He’s going to be a week-to-week improvement until he gets his football legs under him.”
Rookie pass rusher Yasir Abdullah, a fifth-round draft pick from Louisville, was inactive for the first time this season after managing one tackle in five games (45 snaps). Smoot’s return dropped Abdullah out of the D-line rotation.
CB Tyson Campbell (hamstring) is unlikely to play against the Saints, Pederson said. WR Zay Jones (knee) and Little (knee), both inactive against Indianapolis, also are unlikely, given the short turnaround. DT DaVon Hamilton, who returned to practice last week after recovering from a back infection, is at least a week away from making his season debut.
10 – Number of first-quarter points Jacksonville has allowed through six games. It’s tied for second in the NFL behind Baltimore (6).
Win in New Orleans for the first time in franchise history. The Jaguars are 0-3 in the Big Easy. It’s one of five NFL cities where Jacksonville is winless, joining New England (0-9), Seattle (0-4), Washington (0-4) and San Francisco (0-2).
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl