JACKSONVILLE – Week 1 is here. At last.
That means a lot of work has been done, even while much remains. But for the Jaguars and Head Coach Doug Pederson, it mainly means a real game awaits in six days.
It also means a lot of excitement around TIAA Bank Field.
"Now is the fun time," Pederson said Monday afternoon as the Jaguars began preparing to play the Washington Commanders in the 2022 regular-season opener at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., Sunday at 1 p.m.
"You're excited for getting to this point. You're down to your 53[-player regular-season roster]. You have your 16 practice-squad players. It's your guys. It's another set of challenges each and every week. That's what the NFL provides every day.
"Now we're here, finally, to the regular season and we're just looking forward to this first week."
Pederson, entering his first season as the Jaguars' head coach, addressed multiple issues when he spoke with the media Monday – and said while he knows who will start between Jawaan Taylor and Walker Little at right tackle, and while the players know, he doesn't yet want to make the decision public.
"I sure do, and I sure won't," he said, smiling.
Pederson was asked the competitive advantage of not revealing a starter.
"Sometimes it's just fun," he said, still smiling. "Your opponent's looking at everything, too. We're looking at their stuff and they're looking at our stuff. There's no need to reveal anything now. We don't play for a few days."
Pederson on Monday also said he expects third-year running back James Robinson to play Sunday. The Jaguars' leading rusher in 2020-2021, Robinson did not play in the preseason while returning from a season-ending Achilles injury sustained in December.
Pederson also said a starter for Sunday at inside linebacker between rookie first-round selection Devin Lloyd and rookie third-round selection Chad Muma has not been determined. Lloyd missed the first three preseason games with a hamstring injury before playing most of the first half of the preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons.
"We've got to get through Wednesday and Thursday first," Pederson said. "He (Lloyd) is healthy, but he has missed some time. We just have to see where he is going into the rest of this week."
Pederson, too, said he liked that the Jaguars are a young team entering '22.
"It's a good group," Pederson said. "I'm excited to work with these guys. It's an energetic bunch. We've got a sprinkle of veterans in there, too. So that's good, too."
Pederson declined to place increased importance on Sunday's game – or on starting the season "fast" – after the Jaguars finished with the NFL's worst record each of the past two seasons.
"I don't focus on the end result," Pederson said. "I focus on the process and the journey. If you take care of the small things, those big things will take care of themselves – and that's the final score. I just know if we work hard this week, prepare, go play hard and do the right things good things can happen.
"I don't focus on necessarily wins and losses. You just hope at the end of the day you have more points than they do. But it's a process to get there. We don't play the game Monday. We play it six days from now.
"We've got this journey to go through this week."
Pederson said with the excitement of Week 1 comes urgency and awareness, too.
"Guys know what this week and what everything beyond this point really means," Pederson said. "Last week was a matter of cleaning up the roster a little bit and adding some new additions and finalizing the practice squad. Now, we're into game week.
"Everything we do matters. Every little thing. How they take care of themselves away from the building and how they prepare themselves. It's a good group that I think will handle it well."