JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence “felt a lot better” than he expected Tuesday after being diagnosed with a sprained left knee.

Lawrence was a limited participant in practice – backup C.J. Beathard took first-team reps – but was optimistic he would play at New Orleans on Thursday night.

“I’m going to do everything I can to be out there,” Lawrence said. “I feel a lot better today than I would’ve thought. I like how I’m progressing and I’m going to do everything I can to be out there on Thursday.”

Lawrence said his knee has progressed “really well through the past 24, 48 hours” and added that “I really like where it’s at.”

Lawrence twisted his knee on a sack with roughly three minutes remaining in a 37-20 victory over Indianapolis on Sunday. Coach Doug Pederson has repeatedly 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 for a 17-yard loss.

Lawrence was slow to get up before hobbling to the bench and into the locker room.

He wore a brace during practice Tuesday and said he likely would wear it in New Orleans, assuming he plays. If not, Beathard would make his first start since the 2020 regular-season finale with San Francisco.

“I’ve been here 2 1/2 years with him and he hasn’t missed a single game,” Beathard said. “He’s as tough as they come, and I know he’s doing anything and everything he can to be ready to play. That’s still very likely that he plays this week.”

Offensive coordinator Press Taylor said Jacksonville’s training staff would make the final decision on Lawrence’s playing status.

“As long as Trevor’s in a position where he can’t injure himself or as long as he gives us the best chance to win the game and without risking himself or whatever that may be, then that’s what we continue to do,” Taylor said.

Lawrence has completed 67% of his passes for 1,439 yards, with seven touchdowns and three interceptions this season. He has been sacked 16 times and is on pace to shatter his previous high of 32 set in 2021.

Jacksonville’s offensive line could be without both guards, with Walker Little (knee) and Brandon Scherff (ankle) missing practice again Tuesday.

“With any injury, it’s a fine line of how much do you push?” Lawrence said. “I think a little bit is good. That line is always kind of moving, though. You’re trying to do everything you can obviously to play, but then you don’t want to hurt yourself worse, all those things.

“I feel good with where I’m at right now. So we’re just kind of seeing, taking it day by day and seeing how it gets better.”

Lawrence played through a toe injury last season, but hasn’t missed a game because of injury since his final season at Clemson in 2020. He sat out a victory against Boston College because of a neck injury and missed the following week at Notre Dame because of COVID-19 protocols.

“This game is about toughness and, at times, playing through injuries,” Lawrence said. “But also you got to be smart and know the position that we’re in. … There’s a lot of questions that you have to answer. There’s not a right answer to any of them.

“Some guys are more conservative when it comes to injuries and some guys aren’t. Some guys play through more and some guys don’t. So it depends who you are, what you’re comfortable with. The biggest thing is you got to feel confident going out on that field. … You can’t play this game hesitating at all.”

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