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Jaguars Thursday: Third down "major focus" offensively


JACKSONVILLE – The effort is there. Every week.

A few opportunities for big plays have been there, too. But success has proven elusive in recent weeks, which makes Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's task clear.

"We've got to find ways to keep looking for them," Bevell said.

Bevell, speaking to the media Thursday along with defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, covered multiple topics – including how quarterback Trevor Lawrence's ankle injury could influence play-calling against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., Sunday at 4 p.m.

Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, practiced limited for a second consecutive day Thursday after sustaining a low-ankle sprain against Buffalo this past Sunday.

"We just have to see the week continues to progress," Bevell said. "We're assessing it every day. Right now, we're just planning on doing our normal stuff. We'll see during the week if we need to pull back on some things."

Bevell on Thursday also addressed in detail two issues on offense – third-down conversions and big plays. The Jaguars are last in the NFL in third-down conversion at 29.79 percent and have had just one play of more than 30 yards in the last two games.

"Both are critical factors," Bevell said. "You have to be able to convert third downs to stay on the field. And to think you're going to go 10, 12 plays against all these NFL defenses … it's hard to hang your hat on that. We need to be able to find those explosive plays.

"It's something we talk about all the time. It's something we're continue to look for. We're going to continue to work on both those areas."

The Jaguars converted two of 15 third downs against Buffalo Sunday.

"Third down is an issue for us," Bevell said. "It's a major focus. We've got to continue to work on it. It all works together. No. 1, there has to be protection to be able to push the ball downfield. You have to be on time with the ball. Guys have to get open and when guys get open, you have to make the throw.

"We've had a little bit of an issue, really, in every one of those areas at different times. We have to get that execution cleaned up."

The Jaguars are 31st in the NFL in scoring with 16.5 points per game. They have scored 16 points in the last two weeks, with the lone touchdown during that span coming in the final two minutes of a 31-7 loss to Seattle.

"Nine points is definitely not what you're looking for, but we did play a complementary game," Bevell said of a 9-6 victory over the Bills Sunday. "The defense did outstanding. We held the ball long enough and we were fortunate to get the three field goals. We're moving it. Five of the first six drives we were in scoring range. We're getting down there.

"We just have to finish. If we change three of those to touchdowns, we would like the result at the end. We haven't done that yet, so that's what we're continuing to work on."

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Running back James Robinson practiced limited Thursday after missing practice Wednesday with a heel injury. The Jaguars' leading rusher this season, Robinson missed the victory over Buffalo. "I'm feeling a lot better," Robinson told First Coast News. "I'm dealing with soreness right now, but I should be able to get over that soon. You have to plant, and that's when you feel it." Robinson added, "I still feel it a little bit. I don't want to go out there and be thinking about my heel. I want to be 100 percent." Linebacker Myles Jack (knee) missed practice for a second consecutive day Thursday but told First Coast News on Thursday he will play Sunday. "One hundred percent," Jack said. "It's nothing too much." Also on Thursday, cornerback Chris Claybrooks practiced limited – as did Lawrence and left tackle Cam Robinson (back). Defensive lineman Adam Gotsis practiced full after a rest day Wednesday.


Cullen on the Jaguars holding the Bills – the NFL's No. 1 scoring offense entering the game – to two field goals this past Sunday: "It's a standard we're going to keep going. You'll ask, 'Why hasn't it been like that?' It's a process. You keep getting better. We haven't wavered one bit. We haven't changed a lot. The same zone coverages we were using in [training] camp we're using now in games. We're just getting better at the little things. We've just got to keep improving. By no means are we there. We have to keep improving."


Cullen on the impact of safety Rudy Ford, who has moved into the team's nickel role the last two weeks: "It enables us to bring faster guys on the field in certain situations. We blitz Rudy. We played coverage. We played man. He's going to continue to get better."

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