JACKSONVILLE – He's feeling good – and improving by the day.
That's true for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. It's also for the case for wide receiver Christian Kirk. And how those players feel matters very much for the Jaguars entering a win-and-in game in the 2023 regular-season finale.
“It’s feeling better,” Lawrence said Wednesday.
Lawrence, who missed a start for the first time in his three-year NFL career this past Sunday, practiced on Wednesday for the first time since sustaining a sprained AC joint in a Christmas Eve loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He practiced limited Wednesday.
"He is feeling better; he's another one that's kind of day-to-day as we go this week," Pederson said as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (9-7) prepare to play the Tennessee Titans (5-11) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday at 1 p.m.
Said Lawrence, "The plan is just to kind of see how it feels every day and hopefully progress to where I can go on Sunday."
Kirk, the Jaguars' leading receiver last season who has missed the last four games with a core muscle injury, had his window to return from injured reserve opened Wednesday morning. He also practiced limited Wednesday, with Pederson also calling him "day to day."
"We have to see where he's at at the end of the week," Pederson said, with Kirk on Wednesday calling his rehabilitation "a long, long process in a short period of time."
"I'm feeling better day by day and just kind of taking it from that standpoint right now," Kirk said. "I'm just trying to progress every day and do the best that I can to get out there if I can."
Kirk since joining the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in the 2022 offseason has caught 141 passes for 1,895 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading the Jaguars in yards and touchdowns receiving during that span. Lawrence called Kirk's potential return "huge" because of not only "the type of player Christian is, but also the leader, the voice he is in the locker room."
"He's a great player, one of our best players, and we need him back," Lawrence said. "We're excited for that whenever it is. He's clearly doing everything he can to come back. It has been amazing to see him even just moving around and doing some of the stuff he's doing already. I've been super impressed.
"There's not a guy more committed. I know he is going to do the right thing and take care of himself also.
C.J. Beathard would make a second consecutive start at quarterback for the Jaguars if Lawrence can't play. He passed for 178 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions in a 26-0 victory over the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday. That was Beathard's 13th career start and the first for the seventh-year veteran with the Jaguars in three seasons as Lawrence's backup.
Lawrence, who said he had done little throwing since the injury until Wednesday's practice, said his week will be about continued treatment with a focus on returning as quickly as possible – and playing Sunday – but also being smart in his return.
"It's a fine line, but I'm feeling better," he said. "We'll just have to kind of see how I'm feeling. Just as the week goes on, knowing how it's feeling, we'll see how much I end up doing – hopefully every day a little bit more."
Lawrence said he never previously has dealt with a throwing-shoulder injury, adding that "certain movements bother [his shoulder] more than others.
"There are some things that I can do and there are some areas where I have totally normal strength and it's functional," he said. "In certain positions, there's some aggravation, but that's getting better every day. I still would like to see that go down a little bit more before I just totally let it loose."
Lawrence earlier this season played the week after leaving the game with injuries on three different occasions – Week 7 against New Orleans (knee), Week 14 against Cleveland (ankle) and Week 16 against Tampa Bay (concussion).
"It really depends on the injury," Lawrence said. "Something like concussion, there's not much you can do. You have to go through the protocol and you have to clear. Other things, we all (training staff, doctors, coaches) talk about these things when they come up and what's the best decision. We're all aware of the injury, what the risks are, how you're feeling, then you make that decision whenever you feel comfortable.
"I do everything I can to play and I'm going to play through whatever I can as long as I don't feel like it will affect my play too much. Last week, I don't think I would've been able to play anywhere close to what I'm capable of, so I just didn't think it was smart to put the team or myself in that situation.
"You want to do everything you can to play, especially this time of year, but there are a lot of questions you have to answer throughout the week. You have to feel like yourself. You have to be able to go play and play to the best of your ability and not hold the team back. Those are things you have to answer."