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Jaguars' Pederson Reflects on Preseason: Prioritizing Safety, Standout Performances and Team Progress | CoachSpeak

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's postgame press conference following a 31-18 victory over the Miami Dolphins in a 2023 Preseason Week 3 game at EverBank Stadium Saturday

1. Tough decision, right decision. Pederson and Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel faced a difficult decision midway through the fourth quarter when Dolphins wide receiver Daewood Davis left on a stretcher: Continue the game or call it. They decided to call it, with Pederson saying a major reason was the players' body language and mentality after Davis lay on the field several minutes. Making the decision difficult was many players playing at the time were "bottom-of-the-roster players" in a final game before Tuesday's NFL deadline to trim rosters from 90 to the regular-season limit of 53. "It was the right thing to do at that time," Pederson said. "This game is all about player safety. I know it's a preseason game and some guys are fighting for spots and all of that, but at the same time, we want to make sure that everybody is 100 percent."

2. Good night for Robinson. Cam Robinson made a second consecutive start at left tackle Saturday, with Pederson saying he played well. Robinson, the Jaguars' starting left tackle from 2017-2022, will miss the first four 2023 regular-season games because of a suspension. That made Saturday his last action before the suspension. Robinson had worked mostly as a backup in 2023 Training Camp and started Saturday with left tackle Walker Little held out after tweaking his right groin in practice Wednesday. Pederson had said this past Monday that Robinson didn't play as well as normal in a Preseason Week 2 victory over the Detroit Lions last Saturday. "That was the goal coming into camp, to give him a lot of reps, let him play, because we know the suspension is coming," Pederson said. "He really rebounded from the Detroit game. I didn't think he played his best in Detroit. He knew that, and he bounced back tonight. [It was] a tough situation because it was kind of a late decision to go with him as a starter, but he really embraced it. [I] thought he did a nice job, very consistent, and really the Cam of old that we all know he can be, he showed up tonight."

3. Ridley ready. Veteran wide receiver Calvin Ridley caught three passes for 50 yards Saturday in his first Jaguars game in Jacksonville. Ridley has been a major preseason storyline around the Jaguars, having been acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons last November and not having played since October 2021 while missing the 2022 season because of a suspension. Ridley looked fast and explosive Saturday, as he has looked throughout preseason and 2023 Training Camp. "He's embraced sort of this second chance, this opportunity," Pederson said. "He has done an outstanding job of coming in and picking up the system, blending with the guys. He understands, obviously, where he's been and what he's been through, and he just appreciates every moment that he can be out there on the grass. He did some really nice things early in the football game and it was really good to see."

4. Running effectively early. Pederson, too, praised Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. – and said he was pleased overall with the running game Saturday. The Jaguars, after rushing for 145 yards in each of the first two 2023 preseason games, rushed for 130 yards on 26 carries Saturday. Both rookie running back Tank Bigsby and Etienne – a third-year veteran – impressed early Saturday, with Bigsby rushing six times for 37 yards and Etienne rushing eight times for 39 yards and a three-yard touchdown that gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead. Pederson throughout the offseason and into training camp discussed the potential for Etienne to improve in his second NFL season on the field. "You really saw it tonight," Pederson said of Etienne, who missed his rookie 2021 season with a Lisfranc injury. "We talk about keeping the shoulders square and just keep throwing jabs, keep throwing punches: Two yards, three yards, two yards, one yard, two yards, three yards and eventually those turn into eight yards and 10 yards and 12 yards. It's got to be a consistency, and we've seen that throughout the course of the spring and obviously training camp with him. He did a nice job with that tonight. He's maturing and really, I think, embracing his opportunity."

5. Pederson on where the Jaguars are entering his second regular season as head coach: "It's the right guys in the locker room, quite frankly. A lot of guys returning from last year, they know how I like to operate when it comes to practices and training camp. I make it as difficult as I can on them during training camp. They embraced it, and they did a nice job. I'm very proud of everybody in training camp. It's the leadership in the locker room that really shows up in Year Two. I feel like that as the head coach, I don't necessarily have to motivate these players. They can motivate themselves now. And that's a good sign, that they can take that upon themselves, and I've seen it throughout training camp."

Feels good to be back! Click through top game flicks as the Jaguars face the Dolphins in EverBank Stadium 🏈

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