ATLANTA, Ga. – Senior writer John Oehser examines Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's press conference following a 28-12 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in a Preseason Week 3 game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday …
1. Pleased with preseason. This wasn't about Saturday as much as the entire preseason, but make no mistake: Pederson likes a lot about the Jaguars as preseason closes and Week 1 at Washington approaches. The Jaguars finished the preseason 0-4, but the first-team offense and defense fared well during their two appearances. The Jaguars led the Cleveland Browns 13-0 when the starters left the game in Preseason Week 2, and the first-team defense held the Pittsburgh Steelers without a score on the first four drives the following week. The first-team offense scored on five of seven possessions, missing a field goal on a point-blank possession and turning the ball over on downs after another long drive. "I feel good," Pederson said. "I feel good about the starters, the way they've played the last couple of weeks and have really dominated while they were in there. Overall, I feel good about the starters and where they are and how they are focused and ready to get this thing going."
2. This is a healthy roster. A major preseason objective is to enter the regular season healthy. Pederson said Saturday the Jaguars for the most part achieved that goal, with veteran defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi (calf) the lone starter who is an injury concern as the regular season approaches. Will Richardson, a veteran reserve offensive lineman, also missed Saturday's game with an ankle injury. "We're in a pretty good spot," Pederson said. "We've got a couple of guys who are bouncing back. Foley, we've got to try to get him healthy and get him back out there. Other than that, I think we're pretty good coming out of camp and into the regular season."
3. Still open. Saturday began with the Jaguars' kicking situation very much open. To hear Pederson tell it, it ended that way, too. Saturday featured the Jaguars debut of kickers James McCourt and Jake Verity, with McCourt claimed off waivers Tuesday from the Los Angeles Chargers and Verity claimed off waivers Friday from the Indianapolis Colts. McCourt made two of two field goals Saturday, converting from 54 yards in the first quarter and 38 yards in the second. Verity missed his lone attempt from 46 yards in the first quarter. "I don't think we can necessarily decide," Pederson said. "I think we have to figure that out this week in practice and try to go from there and make that decision."
4. Tough days ahead. With the preseason over, the Jaguars by Tuesday at 4 p.m. must trim the roster from their current 81 to the league-mandated regular season limit of 53. For Pederson, who was released six times in a 13-year career as an NFL reserve quarterback, the coming days are difficult. "It's a chance to evaluate the whole thing," he said. "We've got a couple of days here to do that. We'll get in [Sunday] and watch the tape with the players and make the corrections and all that. The players will be off on Monday and we have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. It's always tough this time of year. I told the guys it's a tough part of our business and a lot of guys today made a statement for a possible roster spot or practice-squad spot and those are all things that we have time to evaluate here in the next couple of days."
5. Ramp it up. Pederson on the upcoming start of the regular season: "It's a completely different animal. Obviously, game planning is everything and just these guys are getting all the work, all the ones are getting the work in practice. The young guys are going be doing a little [special] teams and running cards and we've had some experience with that during training camp. It's a level of intensity that steps up a notch and we just have to focus one game at a time, one week at a time."