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Game Report: Jaguars Depth Shines in 25-7 Victory Against Lions

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DETROIT, Mich. – This was an afternoon for reserves, depth and roster spots.

It was a day for youth, too – all of which made the Jaguars' 25-7 victory over the Detroit Lions in a 2023 Preseason Week 2 game at Ford Field Saturday afternoon meaningful even without most starters and front-line players playing.

"It was good," Head Coach Doug Pederson said afterward. "We played so many of our younger backups – and even some of those third-string guys today – and I thought they played really hard. We played physical.

"It was good to see. It wasn't perfect, but I really felt like overall the offense, defense did a nice job."

Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard threw a 15-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Parker Washington late in the second quarter, and kicker Brandon McManus' two field goals gave the Jaguars a 12-0 lead after a first half that essentially featured the Jaguars' second-team offenses and defenses against Lions reserves.

Running back D'Ernest Johnson rushed for second-half touchdowns of one and 15 yards as the Jaguars (2-0 in the preseason) pulled away in front of an announced 45,689.

The Jaguars out-gained the Lions 399-131.

Pederson opted to rest most starters following joint practices with the Lions this past Wednesday and Thursday at the Lions' facility in Allen Park, Mich. Jaguars starters not playing included quarterback Trevor Lawrence, with Beathard starting the game and third-team quarterback Nathan Rourke starting the third quarter.


Beathard, a seventh-year veteran who has backed up Lawrence the past two seasons, completed 12 of 20 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Rourke, who signed as a free agent in the 2023 offseason after two seasons in the Canadian Football League, completed 10 of 12 passes for 121 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions.

Pederson after the game specified that Beathard is the team's backup quarterback.

"C.J.'s our No. 2," Pederson said.

All members of the Jaguars' 13-member 2023 NFL Draft class played except offensive tackle Anton Harrison and Antonio Johnson. Pederson late this week told Jaguars Media Johnson will miss a few weeks with a hamstring injury.

Jaguars rookie running back Tank Bigsby stood out early, rushing for 70 yards on 13 carries in the first half. His 17-yard first-quarter run helped set up McManus' first field goal – the lone score of the quarter.

"It's important just to get reps and continue to grow as a player, to get better as a team just get growth on the field," Bigsby said. "It was amazing to get the opportunity and just continue to work hard and continue to put my head down and get better each and every day."

Standing out for the Jaguars defensively: Sixth-year veteran Jeremiah Ledbetter, who registered a sack, two quarterback pressures and a forced fumble.

The Jaguars registered two sacks – including one by linebacker Ventrell Miller – and two takeaways, with second-year cornerback Gregory Junior's interception setting up Beathard's touchdown pass to Washington that gave the Jaguars a 12-0 halftime lead.

"It just shows how locked in we are as a group," Junior said. "It just shows that we all know the game plan and whenever it's your time to, you just go out there and do what you have to do. We're all competing and we all want each other to win. At end of the day, it's a win for all of us."

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Step by step:

  • McManus' 40-yard field goal gave the Jaguars a 3-0 lead with 6:15 remaining in the first quarter, a play set up by a 48-yard pass from Beathard to wide receiver Tim Jones and a 17-yard run by Bigsby on back-to-back plays.
  • McManus' 28-yard field goal with 4:53 remaining in the second quarter pushed the lead to 6-0. A 23-yard pass from Beathard to wide receiver Jacob Harris and an 11-yard run by Bigsby on back-to-back plays set up the score. Beathard's touchdown pass to Washington with :22 remaining in the first half made it 12-0, with Junior's 37-yard interception return to the Lions 19 setting up the touchdown.
  • A one-yard pass from Lions quarterback Nate Sudfeld to wide receiver Chase Cota cut the Jaguars' lead to 12-7 with 8:37 remaining in the third quarter. Johnson's one-yard run capped an 11-play, 82-yard drive on the ensuing possession to give the Jaguars an 18-7 lead with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter.
  • Johnson's 15-yard run with 13:35 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Jaguars a 25-7 lead.


  • While Pederson held most starters out Saturday, two exceptions were Cam Robinson and Walker Little. Robinson, the Jaguars' starting left tackle from 2017-2022, started the game at left tackle with Little at left guard. Little started at left tackle in last Saturday's Preseason Week 1 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, with Robinson playing extensively with the second team. Robinson will miss the first four games of the 2023 regular season because of an NFL suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, with Little expected to start at left tackle during that time. Robinson starting at left tackle with Little moving to guard is an option after Robinson's suspension.
  • Jaguars players not playing Saturday:
  • Quarterback Trevor Lawrence
  • Running back Travis Etienne Jr.
  • Wide receivers Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Calvin Ridley
  • Center Luke Fortner
  • Right guard Brandon Scherff,
  • Tight ends Evan Engram and Luke Farrell
  • Guard Tyler Shatley
  • Wide receiver Jamal Agnew
  • Offensive tackles Anton Harrison and Josh Wells
  • Defensive linemen Foley Fatukasi, DaVon Hamilton and Roy Robertson-Harris
  • Outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker
  • Linebackers Foye Oluokun and Devin Lloyd
  • Ccornerbacks Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams
  • Safety Andre Cisco, Rayshawn Jennings and Antonio Johnson
  • Defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot (Achilles) remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start 2023 Training Camp
  • Long snapper Ross Matiscik missed the game with a shoulder injury sustained in Preseason Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys last week

Injury report:

  • Rookie offensive lineman Cooper Hodges sustained a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. Veteran offensive lineman Chandler Brewer sustained a shoulder injury in the third quarter.

Start Fast. Play Fast. 🥶 Click through top game photos as the Jaguars take on the Lions at Ford Field. 🏈

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