JACKSONVILLE – He can run. Make no mistake about that.
But as Sunday's 2021 regular-season opener approaches, if you think you'll be seeing Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence using that ability, think again.
The No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft won't run much professionally.
Certainly not by design.
"We know the abilities he has, but we're really not trying to make him a runner," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Thursday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Houston Texans in a Week 1 game at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.
That could mark a bit of a departure in style for Lawrence, who rushed for 943 yards and 19 touchdowns on 231 career carries in three seasons at Clemson University.
"That's a really important question," Bevell said, who compared the approach to that which he took whole coordinating the Seattle Seahawks early in Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson's career with that organization. "Your starting quarterback … how that guy goes is how your team is going to go.
"I think back to my time with Russell. He (Wilson) has that [running] ability. Russell is a really smart, cerebral player. He knew where free hitters were coming from. He knew when to get down. He knew when to give himself up. We're still working through all that with Trevor."
Bevell specified that designed runs for Lawrence will be rare.
"This is not Clemson where we're pulling the ball and running downhill inside and letting linebackers and safeties hit him," Bevell said. "We have to be much more judicious about that in the NFL and try to take the hits off of him as much as we can."
Bevell said Thursday is he pleased with Lawrence's knowledge of the offense entering his first professional start.
"I feel really confident that he has a great hold on the game plan," Bevell said, adding that he is "really comfortable" with Lawrence's overall development. "I'm excited about his progress. It has been daily thing and it still is a daily deal for him. He puts a lot of effort and time into it. He really works his tail off. There's so much that the quarterback has to do. We take off as much as we can. Ultimately, it always falls back on the quarterback.
"Where he's at right now, I'm really excited about."
Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen on Thursday discussed multiple players, including third-year safety Andrew Wingard – who Cullen said will be among multiple safeties playing key roles Sunday. Rookie Andre Cisco also will play a key role, with snaps depending on game situation. "Anybody [active] is a starter," Cullen said. "They're going to go in the game at really any given time at certain positions – that's one of them. Cisco could be in there second series, third series. We've got a great group back there." Cullen also said the team is working multiple players at the nickel position, mentioning second-year cornerback Chris Claybrooks and rookie Tyson Campbell.
Cullen made clear what he expects from the Texans offensively, with Houston having emphasized the run – and an experienced backfield – throughout the preseason. "They want to be physical and run the football," Cullen said. "Their quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) can run. We have to do a great job knocking the run out and making them one-dimensional. They move all the pieces round so fast that they get people's eyes looking over here and the ball is running there. We have to be really disciplined on our keys and knock the run out."
Cullen praised Taylor, a veteran who will start with the Texans not planning to play Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson Sunday. The Jaguars scouted Taylor with previous teams – including a start he made for the Buffalo Bills against the Jaguars in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game following the 2017 season – to prepare for Sunday. Cullen said the Jaguars also scouted Taylor from games he played against the Baltimore Ravens when Cullen was defensive line coach there from 2016-2020. "He can make the deep throws," Cullen said. "He's a Pro Bowl quarterback. He can win the game with his feet. The biggest thing we wanted to do was keep him in the pocket, because that (outside the pocket) was where he was beating people."