ATLANTA, Ga. – Devin Lloyd was smiling Saturday evening.
And why not? The Jaguars' rookie linebacker did what he wanted that afternoon. He not only played his first NFL game, he played well – and felt good and healthy afterward.
That made the preseason finale a good day for Lloyd.
"I loved being out on the field, being with my guys," Lloyd said after playing about 25 plays Saturday in the Jaguars' 28-12 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in a Preseason Week 3 game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"It was definitely fun. There are obviously some things to correct, but more than anything I was just blessed to be out there."
Lloyd, the No. 27 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, played much of the first half Saturday after missing the first three preseason games with a hamstring injury. He registered five tackles – and perhaps most importantly, left the game uninjured.
"He came out of the game perfectly fine," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "He came out strong and healthy. We wanted to get him the first quarter at least. He did well. He looked good and played fast. It was good to see.
"We just have to find out where he is health-wise when we get back. We'll check him this week as we get back into practice."
Said Lloyd, "It feels good. It's going to be a little sore, but it's definitely strong. It felt good out there. I have no concerns at all."
Rookie third-round selection Chad Muma played extensively in Lloyd's spot throughout much of 2022 Training Camp. Lloyd and third-year veteran Shaq Quarterman started inside Saturday, with Muma not playing as the Jaguars rested most starters and front-line players.
"It's just a great situation to be in, with two young guys who can rotate really," Pederson said. "You have three players to play two spots – which is good. Both of those young players have really been bright spots. They're young players, ascending players, who are going to have to play some meaningful snaps obviously for us during the regular season."
Lloyd called the chance to play before the regular season "huge."
"Especially bringing guys to the ground, the contact part of it," he said. "Just to understand and gauge where I was at, the workload and the capacity … it was good to go out there and do that."
- Wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, started and caught two passes for 19 yards Saturday. He caught one pass for six yards in Preseason Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week after missing the first two preseason games with a hamstring issue. "It was a hard month being out and trying to get healthy," he said. "A hamstring ain't nothing to play with. I'll say that for sure. It felt good to be able to practice this week, full effect. But it was a hard month. I'm just doing my best every day. That's it."
- Rookie quarterback E.J. Perry, who originally signed with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent shortly after the 2022 NFL Draft, started and played the entire game for the Jaguars Saturday. He completed 19 of 37 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. "It was an awesome opportunity, to go out in this environment with these guys and get to play a [full] game," Perry said. "It's going to be an awesome opportunity to learn from it this coming week." Perry completed four of five passes for 69 yards on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with his seven-yard touchdown pass to veteran wide receiver Laquon Treadwell with :17 remaining in the first half. "I think he did some good things," Pederson said. "I did feel like maybe there were some things he tried to press a little bit. Tried to make something happen, which sometimes young players can do that especially a quarterback. Overall, he made some really good decisions, good throws, played tough, played physical, took some shots during the second half."