JACKSONVILLE – He has been there, done that.
But Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles was more than just “there” in recent seasons. He not only played in the most pressurized of NFL situations, he thrived in them.
And that’s why his teammates are excited this week.
“It’s a positive,” wide receiver Chris Conley said as the Jaguars (4-5) began preparing to play the Indianapolis Colts (5-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m. “Some people crumble under pressure. Some people really excel under it.
“He happens to be one of the people who excels at the highest level under that kind of pressure, knowing there are no do-overs. He does really well with that.”
We’ll cover multiple topics in this Monday Jaguars update, including the team’s return to health after last week’s bye and the return of linebacker Jake Ryan. But Foles’ return to the starting lineup after missing eight games with a broken clavicle is Topic No. 1.
Foles, who signed as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason, was the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player with the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2017 season. He won must-win games that season and did so again with the Eagles late last season.
The Jaguars figure to be in similar situations the rest of the season if they continue to win.
“Experience plays a big role in this game, and seeing Nick do it before gives you confidence,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “That’s crucial. There are a few guys on this team that have been in situations like this before. This is the game of football. Teams that make a run put themselves in position to do great things.
“I think this team has the ability to do that, especially with Nick leading the way. But it’s going to be a battle every day. We’re capable of doing it and I feel a lot more confident about it because I know we have a quarterback who’s done it before.”
Linebacker Myles Jack, asked about the locker room’s respect for Foles, told of Foles speaking to the team shortly before players left for last week’s bye.
“He has no problem stepping up in front of the team,” Jack said, adding that part of Foles’ message was that the Jaguars are in a better position than they believe.
“That last game really left a sour taste in our mouths,” Jack said of a 26-3 loss to the Houston Texans the Sunday before the bye. “Nick was just saying, ‘Don’t let that get to you. We’re still in the hunt. We’re still in the race. These next couple of games are very crucial, so take time away get away from ball and do what you got to do, so when we come back we’re ready to roll in these next seven games.’’’
Conley called Foles “a good leader of men.”
“He’s a guy who excites people in the huddle,” Conley said. “Fifteen (rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, the starter in the last eight games) excited people in the huddle as well, but you have character guys in this locker room who are excited and energized after the bye week and ready to come back and play football games.”
Also around the Jaguars Monday:
*The Jaguars moved closer to full health than they have been since early September, with multiple players returning to practice. Among them was Ryan, who spent the preseason and first nine regular-season games on the reserve/non-football-injury list with a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury that cost him his final season with the Green Bay Packers in 2018. “It’s tough – dealing with an injury for a year and a half now is not a fun thing,” he said. “But I’m back and it feels good.” Ryan, who signed as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason, played both outside and inside during his time in Green Bay and said he doesn’t yet know his role with the Jaguars. “Wherever they put me, that’s where I’ll be,” he said. “I’m just waiting for them to tell me and we’ll go from there.” …
*Conley on the importance of the coming weeks: “We eliminated any room for error that we have with this last loss [to the Texans]. I think everyone is excited about the prospects of what we can do. We believe we can win games and that we can be a dangerous team. But really, right now, it comes down to this week. This week is the most important week and there’s no other way to say it. We can’t have mistakes. We have to go out and perform.” …