JACKSONVILLE – This is nothing new for C.J. Beathard.
"I've been in this situation before," he said.
So it is that Beathard, his teammates and his coaches aren't concerned if he – and not starter Trevor Lawrence – plays quarterback for the Jaguars in a key December AFC game Sunday.
"We have the utmost confidence in C.J's next-man up mentality," wide receiver Calvin Ridley said Wednesday as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (8-4) prepared to play the Cleveland Browns (7-5) at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Whoever it is [playing quarterback], we'll be ready."
Lawrence, the Jaguars' starting quarterback in all 46 regular-season games since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, sustained a high-ankle sprain with 5:25 remaining in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Monday. He did not practice Wednesday but said he feels better than he expected, and Head Coach Doug Pederson has not ruled Lawrence out of Sunday's game.
Beathard, a seven-year veteran, played two series in place of Lawrence Monday and will make his 13th career start if Lawrence is unavailable.
"I'm just going to prepare as if I'm going to play just like I do each and every other week," Beathard said. "Then if the opportunity comes, I'll be in there ready to go. If it doesn't, I won't bat an eye about it. I want him to be healthy."
Beathard, the Jaguars' backup quarterback in all three of Lawrence's seasons with the team, has started 12 NFL games – all with the San Francisco 49ers from 2017-2020. He is 2-10 as a starter, completing 312 of 524 career passes for 3,614 yards and 18 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.
"We have a lot of confidence in C.J. and what he's done here and his history," Pederson said. "He hasn't had any snaps with our offense, really. That's part of being a backup quarterback; you have to be ready to go. We'll see how the week goes. That's why you prepare like a starter, so if your number is called, you're obviously ready to go and you don't miss a beat."
Beathard completed 9 of 10 passes for 63 yards against Cincinnati, driving the Jaguars 53 yards for a game-tying field goal in the final minute of regulation. His 43-yard pass to Ridley to the Bengals 2-yard line on the first possession of overtime was negated by a holding penalty on Jaguars rookie right tackle Anton Harrison. The Jaguars punted two plays later, with Cincinnati then driving for the game-winning field goal.
"That's a hard job," Lawrence said. "It's a job where you don't get a ton of reps, especially with the guys you're throwing to when you do have to play with the starters. During the week, I'm getting the reps because obviously I'm playing. Then, a guy has to come in, one has to know the system, inside and out, has to prepare like a starter which he does.
"We've got great players around us, but the quarterback position is important and for him to be able to put together a drive to get us in field-goal range, kick the game-tying field goal and send it to overtime, that's huge – to have that faith and confidence in your second guy that he can go do that, no matter the situation.
"We have a ton of confidence in him. He's prepared for it. He's played a lot of football, too. He has been a starter in this league. He's the perfect guy for the job and he's going to do great if he does need to play, so we'll just go from there."
- Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen sees Monday's loss and Sunday's game against the Browns simply. The Jaguars allowed a season-high 491 yards – and 156 yards rushing – to the Bengals and they must improve to beat the Browns, who rank seventh in the NFL in rushing with 11 rushing touchdowns this season. "If you can turn around and hand the ball off and average this amount of yards, why stop doing that?" Allen said. "We have to take pride in that, in stopping the run. We are a run-stop team. We have to earn the right to rush the passer. That's first things first that we have to take care of. This is a team we're about to play that's predicated on running the ball. We have to get our minds right. It will be a tough game, cold game. It's potentially rainy in a tough environment, but it's a matchup we'll be ready to respond to. We'll be ready to go this week."
Sun came up and we are back to work 💪 Swipe through top photos of the Jaguars preparation for Week 14. The Jaguars will face the Cleveland Browns in Ohio on Sunday afternoon.