JACKSONVILLE – A day and a half later, Doug Pederson's view stayed much the same.
The Jaguars have multiple areas to improve, and those areas will be a focus moving forward, but the head coach's overall feeling after the preseason opener was positive.
"I like where we're at right now," Pederson said Monday, two days after a 28-23 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in 2023 Preseason Week 1.
"We have to keep improving, obviously."
Pederson, speaking early Monday before a mid-afternoon practice at the Miller Electric Center on Day 14 of Jaguars 2023 Training Camp, spoke positively of multiple areas – including roster depth, which he said appears improved from last training camp.
"This is what you love about training camp," he said, answering a question focusing on third-year wide receiver Jacob Harris – whose 42-yard reception Saturday to set up a second-quarter touchdown. "You love the competition aspect of it. You love the backend guys that are competing for either that fifth or sixth roster spot or practice squad spots and they make it hard on us."
Pederson on Monday said an offseason focus was "improving the back end of the roster." He said multiple young such young players played well Saturday and will get another opportunity Saturday in Detroit.
"A lot of the young guys got to play the other night, kind of get their feet wet," he said. "They'll get better this next go around. They'll learn from the good and the bad and apply it this week. I think we're in a better situation from a depth perspective than we were a year ago.
"That's a positive. It's hard when you get to the end of camp. There are going to be some good players that are going to have to be let go. Unfortunately, it's part of the business."
Pederson was less pleased with the start to Saturday's game offensively, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence throwing an interception on the second play and the offense punting without a first down on the second possession. The Jaguars took an 8-0 lead with Lawrence finished the first-team offense's third/final possession with a nine-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Christian Kirk and a two-point pass to wide receiver Zay Jones.
Pederson, who said the ball slipped from Lawrence's hand on the interception, said starting fast was a major offseason emphasis and that Saturday "was not starting fast."
"You don't throw an interception on the second play of the game," he said. "It's just a matter of continuing to work at it. I sort of relate it to how we attack our individual period or a team period early in practice. That's the way we have to start a football game. It just has to be mindset, so we just continue to work on it."
Added Pederson, "My message will kind of resonate through the football team that we do have to continue to start games faster."
Pederson said the first-team defense played physical and aggressive on two early series Saturday – and he also said the first-team defense and reserves rushed the passer well.
"I thought the first group did a really nice job of putting pressure on the quarterback," Pederson said, mentioning in defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris and outside linebacker Travon Walker. "That first unit, you could feel the pocket sort of collapse around the quarterback in those first two drives. That's what you want to see. It did affect some of the throws. We were pleased."
Pederson, too, said third-year outside linebacker Jordan Smith and rookie outside linebacker Yasir Abdullah had strong plays.
"The more snaps these young guys get, the better they're going to feel," he said. "Overall, the pressure was really good."
Pederson on Monday also assessed:
- Rookie offensive tackle Anton Harrison, the No. 27 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft who played 22 snaps: "We really saw his aggressiveness. You saw his athleticism. There are some things we can clean up and improve upon, but overall he did a nice job the first time out and really showed the type of player he is and the reason we drafted him."
- Rookie guard Cooper Hodges, a seventh-round selection: "Cooper did some really good things for his first time out. I thought he played physical. He was aggressive. For the most part, his assignments were pretty clean. There are some things we can clean up as we watch the tape. I thought overall his performance was really good for a rookie offensive lineman in his first game."
- With long snapper Ross Matiscik sustaining a right shoulder injury in the first quarter Saturday, the Jaguars on Monday signed veteran long snapper Carson Tinker. An eight-year NFL veteran, Tinker spent 2013-2018 with the Jaguars after signing with the team as a collegiate free agent following the 2013 NFL Draft. He played with the Las Vegas Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021 and the Seattle Seahawks in 2022. Pederson said Matiscik is "day-to-day" this week. "He's going to be fine," Pederson said of Matiscik. "We're probably leaning toward holding him out if he's sore. I don't want to have any setbacks with him at this point. We'll see where he is at the end of the week." The Jaguars went for two-point conversions following touchdowns Saturday, with tight end Josh Pederson – Pederson's son – snapping on punts for the first time in his career. "My hat's off to him for going in there and bailing us out," Pederson said, "but we obviously can't go into a game that way."
- The Jaguars met in Jacksonville Sunday with defensive lineman Jadaveon Clowney, a 10-year NFL veteran and the No. 1 overall selection by the Houston Texans in the 2014 NFL Draft. "He came in for a visit," Pederson said. "It was good. Absolutely."
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