JACKSONVILLE – The circumstances are difficult.
Trevor Lawrence's situation is a reason that's true for the Jaguars this week. There are other reasons, too. But whatever the circumstance, Head Coach Doug Pederson said desperation and panic aren't helpful – or necessary.
Pederson said he opts for another approach.
"You have to feel a sense of urgency," Pederson said Wednesday as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (8-6) prepared to play the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Sunday.
One reason for the Jaguars' urgency:
Lawrence, who has started 48 consecutive games at quarterback since the Jaguars selected him No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, as of Wednesday remains in concussion protocol. Lawrence sustained the injury in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday.
"We have to follow the steps," Pederson said of Lawrence. "We can't skip anything."
Pederson under NFL rules can't discuss details regarding players in concussion protocol. He was asked Wednesday about Lawrence participating in meetings.
"You have to follow the steps," Pederson said. "It's really based on symptoms and how he feels. If he can sit in a meeting and tolerate a meeting, it's okay. If not, then we don't put him in there because you're stimulating the brain. It's just based on symptoms. If it's his knee or ankle, he's in those meetings and he's getting the gameplan and listening and all of that. You just have to do it really case by case."
C.J. Beathard, Lawrence's backup for three seasons, will start if Lawrence is unavailable.
"At this point, it's really just a mindset," said Beathard, who told media that Lawrence was at the Miller Electric Center – the Jaguars' training facility – Wednesday.
Beathard has started 12 games in seven NFL seasons – with all 12 starts coming for the San Francico 49ers, where he played from 2017-2020. He is 2-10 as a starter with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Beathard on Wednesday took first-team repetitions. He also practiced extensively with first-team repetitions with Lawrence's status in doubt entering games against the New Orleans Saints (Week 6) and Cleveland Browns (Week 14).
"To me, it's the same," Beathard said. "I'm taking a lot more reps and practice and stuff. I'm preparing the same way. You have to prepare as if you're going to be going. Then hopefully Trevor clears protocol by the end of the week for sure.
"I've had a lot of practice at it whether it's here or where I used to be. Even the games where the starter isn't banged up, it's just about preparing. You might have to go into the game. That's just what you have to do."
Other reasons for the Jaguars' urgency:
The circumstances around the AFC South, which has tightened with the Jaguars losing three consecutive games – 34-31 in overtime to the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-27 to the Cleveland Browns and to the Ravens.
The Jaguars after a Week 12 victory over the Houston Texans were 8-3 with a two-game lead in the South over the Texans and Indianapolis Colts. They also held tiebreaker advantages over both teams. They are now tied for the lead with the Texans and Colts, in first place because of a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Colts and a better division record than the Texans.
"I don't know if you ever want to feel desperate," Pederson said. "I think you have to feel a sense of maybe your back's against the wall a little bit. It's time to play. I don't think you ever want to be desperate because then you do things out of character."
The Jaguars finish the season at Tampa, home against the Carolina Panthers (2-12) and at the Tennessee Titans (5-9). They will win the division if they win all three games regardless of how the Colts and Texans fare in the final three games.
"It's figuring out how to win the game right now," Pederson said. "It's just mentality, a mindset, that hey, 'Sometimes enough's enough and you just have to take pride in the opportunities you get."
- Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones missed practice Wednesday after sustaining a hamstring injury against the Ravens, with Pederson saying Wednesday Jones is "getting better … but still week to week." Safety Andre Cisco (groin) and cornerback Tyson Campbell (quadricep) practiced limited Wednesday after missing Sunday. "Hopefully, they continue to progress – and we'll see where they're at," Pederson said of Cisco and Campbell. Left tackle Walker Little (hamstring) and left guard Ezra Cleveland (knee), who started and played complete games with those injuries Sunday, practiced limited Wednesday. Cornerback Christian Braswell (hamstring) and tight end Brenton Strange (foot) also practiced limited Wednesday with Beathard practicing full with a left shoulder injury.