JACKSONVILLE – Confidence is high – with a caveat.
Head Coach Doug Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke on Thursday afternoon discussed the Jaguars' 53-player roster entering the 2023 regular season and the moves to get there.
"The pieces are there," Pederson said, with Baalke adding:
- "We feel good about the group we have."
The caveat? It's only the beginning, though Pederson – entering his second season with the team – made clear he likes the state of the Jaguars looking ahead to the 2023 regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on September 10.
"We'll find out," Pederson said Thursday during a half-hour media availability with Baalke at the Miller Electric Center. "It's a long season. We know we got the quarterback (Trevor Lawrence). We feel like we have the skill around him. It's a long season and injury plays a part of this game. I don't look past today.
"One thing I will say: This team, they're in the right frame of mind."
The Jaguars on Tuesday trimmed the roster from 91 to the league-mandated 53 players: Two quarterbacks, four running backs, seven wide receivers, three tight ends, eight offensive lineman, four outside linebackers, six defensive linemen, five inside linebackers, six cornerbacks, five safeties and three special-teams players.
"That's the unique thing about the roster," Pederson said of keeping seven wide receivers on the initial roster. "The way it's constructed every year, you never really go in with a set number. Sometimes, you're going to go heavy at a position and go light at another one, or whatever it might be.
"It's just how it worked out this year. We're excited for the seven we have depth there."
Said Baalke: "They're all tough decisions. You got 91 guys working hard [during training camp and preseason], putting everything they got into it. It's never easy to make those cuts. Some are easier than others, but we had a good group, a very competitive group.
"They work hard. They're close-knit, both in the locker room and outside the walls of this building. We're looking forward to getting rolling here in a week."
Nine of the team's 13 selections in the 2013 NFL Draft made the initial 53-player roster:
- Offensive tackle Anton Harrison (Round One)
- Tight end Brenton Strange (Round Two)
- Running back Tank Bigsby (Round 3)
- Defensive lineman Tyler Lacy (Round 4)
- Outside linebacker Yasir Abdullah (Round 5)
- Safety Antonio Johnson (Round 5)
- Wide receiver Parker Washington (Round 6)
- Cornerback Christian Braswell (Round 76)
- Offensive tackle Cooper Hodges (Round 7)
The team signed cornerback Erick Hallett II (Round 6) and tight end Derek Parish (Round 7) to the practice squad, with linebacker Ventrell Miller (Round 5) out for the season on injured reserve with an Achilles. The team released defensive tackle Raymond Vohasek (Round 7).
"It's nice to see when they come in and they are who we thought they were," Baalke said. "They are who we thought they were as players and as people. They're great people. They worked their hind ends off. It was good to see."
The Jaguars since Baalke and Pederson began working together in early 2022 have overturned much of the roster. Thirty-one players on the current 53 have joined the team since then, with 11 projected starters on the current roster with the team before the 2022 offseason.
"We understand the roster changes every year, but we needed to get better and we needed to get better in a hurry in order to put a championship roster together," Pederson said. "That's what you have to do. You have to take some risks and you have to kind of go out on limbs sometimes with some of these players, but you don't go out on that limb without having the confidence that that limb's going to support you.
"We dialogue every single day and we communicate and we incorporate the coaching staff and the personnel staff. You can put together a roster in a hurry and we've been able to do that these last couple of years. I'm really pleased with where we are and how fast we we've gotten there."
Added Baalke, "You can never have enough good football players. We're going to do everything we can to continue to look, continue to build. We're not done. You're never done building the roster because things can change so quickly in this business."
- The Jaguars on Thursday placed Hodges and veteran defensive tackle lineman DaVon Hamilton on injured reserve, meaning they will miss at least the first four weeks of the regular season. Hodges sustained a patellar injury in Preseason Week 1 and Hamilton has had a non-football-related back issue for the last 10 days. "How long it lingers past [four weeks], we don't know yet," Baalke said of Hamilton. Pederson said rookie safety Antonio Johnson is "progressing nicely" from a hamstring injury, though he is leaning toward Johnson not playing in Week 1.