JACKSONVILLE – Mike Caldwell's respect for this week's opponent is high.
The Jaguars' defensive coordinator spoke to the media Thursday. As expected, he spoke highly of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes – a perennial Most Valuable Player candidate. Caldwell had high praise for Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, too.
Really, really high.
"He's a guy that has changed the position," Caldwell said of Kelce as the Jaguars (3-6) prepared to play the Chiefs (6-2) at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.
Kelce, a 10-year veteran and a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, remains very much in his prime at 33 with 57 receptions for 659 yards and seven touchdowns through eight games. He's a major reason the Chiefs have been one of the NFL's best offenses in recent seasons, and a reason they rank first in points and second in yards after trading wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins this past offseason.
Jaguars rookie inside linebacker Devin Lloyd this week called Kelce "the best in the game."
"He's somebody who's smart and obviously he's a vet," Lloyd said. "He's just an elite player."
Caldwell this week compared Kelce to Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez as "a guy that is almost like a receiver" and "a guy that you have to play attention to the fact that the offense runs through him."
"It's tough," Caldwell said.
Caldwell said while Lloyd will help cover Kelce, he won't do so alone.
"When you have a guy that is that talented and making that many plays for you from the tight end position, it is special," Caldwell said. "We'll have multiple guys being able to cover him. It's going to be a team effort; it won't just be one guy going out there and trying to stop one person. It'll be a team effort and we will have multiple guys we'll try to throw at him and try to slow him down.
"We have different options to be able to use to try to cover Travis Kelce and we will do that."
- Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor on Thursday praised quarterback Trevor Lawrence's performance this past Sunday in a 27-20 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders at TIAA Bank Field. A week after completing 18 of 33 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions in a 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in London, Lawrence completed 25 of 31 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. He led four consecutive scoring drives to turn a 17-0 deficit into a 24-20 fourth-quarter lead, completing his first 10 passes of the second half for 95 yards on back-to-back touchdown drives. "I thought he did a great job being accurate, being decisive with the football, guys getting open for him," Taylor said. "That's what it comes down to. You have nowhere to throw the ball if nobody can get open or you can't keep a clean pocket, so it's really everybody playing in conjunction. He was definitely locked in. You don't really notice it. You're just continuing to be efficient and effective and moving the football, and by the time you look at it, somebody points out you just hit 10 in a row. That's what you want it to be. We're not concerned with his numbers. As an offense, we want to score points. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to put our team in the best position to win." The game marked the third time this season Lawrence has completed at least 80 percent of his passes. "There's been games that he's done that," Taylor said. "There has been a couple games he's really kind of caught fire, he's taken what the defense has given him and been effective in our offense. Then there's been games that he hasn't performed as well. You're trying to eliminate the roller coaster of a season, but it's going to happen. We just want the consistency, the growth from him that he's been able to show. As an offense, we need to be more consistent over time. That's kind of us taking the next step as an offensive unit."
- Jaguars tight end Evan Engram was listed as practicing limited on the Thursday injury report for a second consecutive day after leaving Sunday's game with the injury. Safety Rayshawn Jenkins remains in the concussion protocol after leaving Sunday's game with the injury and was listed as practicing limited Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.