JACKSONVILLE – This day was pretty much as expected.
For Head Coach Doug Pederson, there's good and bad in that. The good is that as the Jaguars on Monday continued trimming – and shaping – the 2023 regular-season roster it again became apparent this is a talented, deep team.
That didn't make this a good day, though.
"It's kind of bittersweet," Pederson said two days after the Jaguars' 31-18 victory over the Miami Dolphins at EverBank Stadium in the 2023 preseason finale.
Pederson spoke as the Jaguars worked to reduce their roster to 53 players, which must be done by Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.
The Jaguars as of early Monday afternoon had 91 players on the roster, including an extra spot for safety Ayo Oyelola in the NFL's International Pathway program. Pederson, as he has said throughout 2023 Training Camp and preseason, said the process of trimming 37 players from the roster will be difficult because of the depth at numerous positions.
"We're finding that that is real," Pederson said "We also know there are going to be some good football players that will have to be released. It's a tough, tough 24 hours or so here and around the league. It's just a credit to obviously [General Manager] Trent [Baalke], his staff and the quality of athletes that players we've brought onto this roster and the depth that we've brought to this team.
"You love to keep them all, but you can't. You have to make the best decisions moving forward."
The Jaguars finished the preseason 3-0, with the starters playing most of the first quarter against the Dolphins Saturday. The first-team offense scored a touchdown with a lost fumble at the Dolphins two-yard line on its first two possessions, with the first-team defense allowing a field goal during that same span.
"Overall, the preseason was a success," Pederson said.
The Jaguars' starters left Saturday with a 7-3 lead. They did not play in a Preseason Week 2 victory at Detroit and left a Preseason Week 1 victory at Dallas with a 8-0 lead.
"Obviously, the wins and losses are a big part of it, but that's not everything," Pederson said. "Some of that can be a little misleading."
Pederson noted that the first-team offense scored two touchdowns with two turnovers and a punt on five preseason possessions.
"So, it wasn't as clean as maybe you would like," he said. "Those are some things we have to clean up."
The first-team defense allowed one field goal in four preseason possessions.
"They kind of picked up where they left off a year ago, being able to stop the run," Pederson said of the defense. "We still have work to do with the pass game and just making sure guys are on the same page there with coverage. Everybody's a year in the system, so it's much better to be able to teach and correct, because everybody understands where we are."
- Rookie linebacker Ventrell Miller – a fourth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft – sustained an Achilles injury Saturday and will miss the 2023 season. "He'll be missed," Pederson said. Pederson said veteran defensive lineman DaVon Hamilton returned to EverBank Stadium Monday after being away since last Sunday with a non-football-related back issue. Pederson also said defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi is "progressing nicely" from a preseason foot injury and could return to the field this week, with veteran guard Tyler Shatley cleared to return to practice after having an atrial fibrillation in early August. He said swing tackle Josh Wells (adductor) is expected to be week-to-week with reserve rookie guard Cooper Hodges (patella) isn't close to returning and is "still going to miss some time."
- Pederson on Monday praised a 2023 rookie class that impressed throughout training camp. The Jaguars selected 13 players in the '23 draft, with 10-to-11 potentially being on the initial 53-man roster Tuesday. "It was a great group." Pederson said. "They were eager to get on the field. They were eager to learn, all the way back to that rookie minicamp when we had them in here for the first time. I've been very impressed with the group as a whole. That's a good sign that we're bringing in the right guys as a staff. They're going to have to play. We're very pleased with our rookie class this year."
- Pederson on fourth-year linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, the No. 20 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft: "I like where he was at the end of last year and how he came into training camp. He's going to get a lot of snaps. He's going to be a No. 3 outside rusher. He's going to have to play and he's going to have to play at a high level. He understands that. I've been pleased where he's at."