JACKSONVILLE – It's mid-October, and that's an important time in the NFL.
Teams have played five or six games and are developing an identity, which Head Coach Doug Pederson said is the state of the Jaguars as they prepare for a key division game Sunday.
"This is the time of the season where we kind of figure out who we are, and sort of who we want to be," Pederson said as the Jaguars (2-3) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (2-2-1) in an AFC South matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., Sunday at 1 p.m.
"The month of October is that time for all teams, really – coming out of preseason and sort of finding their way for the first month."
The Jaguars, after back-to-back one-sided victories over the Colts (24-0) at home and the Los Angeles Chargers (38-10) on the road, have lost their last two games – 29-21 to the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles on the road in Week 5 and 13-6 to the previously winless Houston Texans at home this past Sunday.
They enter Sunday in third place in the AFC South behind the Tennessee Titans (3-2) and Colts.
Pederson on Friday also discussed the Jaguars' offensive line, which is dealing this week with the team's first major injury of the season. Veteran reserve center/guard Tyler Shatley moved into the starting lineup after the team placed starting left guard Ben Bartch on injured reserve with a season-ending knee injury sustained against Houston.
"Shatley's a veteran guy," Pederson said. "He has played a ton of games. It's going to be a great opportunity for him. I'm excited to watch him play. I know he's up for it and has prepared himself for it."
Shatley, who started 33 games – mostly at center – in eight previous seasons as the team's swing interior player, worked with the first team at guard at times during 2022 Training Camp.
"That's the nice thing about having the offseason, having training camp, where you really don't have five guys yet, where you're working different combinations," Pederson said. "Times like this is where it pays off."
Jaguars rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, has started all five games this season with a sack, two tackles for loss, an interception, two quarterback hits and two passes defensed. "With his size and athleticism, he's a guy who can be a dominant edge setter," Pederson said. "He can be physical in the run game and you have seen his athleticism dropping into coverage. One thing that Travon will start to understand more and more is that teams start to game plan for him. Now, he has to really pay attention to that. Those are things now, as he gets more play time, and as the game progresses, how are they attacking him. That's the next phase."
Pederson on wide receiver Christian Kirk, who has 21 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns in five games after signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent this past March: "One of the biggest things I was looking for – me personally – was high-character guys, guys who were going to fit and help change the culture. He was one of those guys. He was our No. 1 target that we wanted to get in free agency and we were able to get him. When you get him here and you see exactly who he is – and what he's about, how he works, how he spends time doing extra things, how he studies the game – it's just confirmation that our efforts looking at him have paid off in that regard."
Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. was added to the injury report Friday as questionable for Sunday with a hamstring issue. Also listed as questionable entering the weekend: Defensive end Foley Fatukasi (quad), linebacker Foye Oluokun (calf), wide receiver Zay Jones (ankle) and defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton (foot).