JACKSONVILLE – It's different now than before, and that's OK.
Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars face heightened expectations entering the 2023 regular season. Such outside issues are the companion of recent success. But Lawrence said how the Jaguars handle such things is what matters.
On that front, the third-year quarterback is confident.
"With the group we have, it doesn't worry me at all," he said.
Lawrence and Head Coach Doug Pederson met with the media Wednesday at the Miller Electric Center as the 2022 AFC South Champion Jaguars prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts in the 2023 regular-season opener at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
Expectations and confidence were a topic for both, with the Jaguars returning most front-line players from a team that won its last five regular-season games in 2022 to qualify for the postseason for the first time in five seasons.
"We stay focused on the moment," Pederson said. "We stay focused on ourselves. We prepare like we do every single week and every single day. That's what we have to do.
"We can't worry about what's going on outside the building. Let the fans and the media talk about that. You have to win today on a Wednesday. That's how get your team ready."
The Jaguars in 2023 will be in their second season under Pederson after entering his first season months removed from finishing with the NFL's worst record for a second consecutive season.
"It's a lot different, the confidence piece," Lawrence said. "There are going to be things that come up along the season. There are going to be hiccups. It's never going to go perfect, but just the confidence we have in our guys, our system, our staff and the relationships – and the kind of the storms we weathered last year – gives us confidence.
"We know everything's not going to go perfect this year. It's never going to no matter how good your team is. Understanding that and also realizing we've been through some of that adversity before and we know how to handle it, I think we'll be able to bounce back even quicker than we were able to last year."
The Jaguars ranked ninth in the NFL in total points and 10th in yards last season, ranking 24th in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed. They were fourth in the NFL in turnovers forced, returning all 11 starters on offense and most offensive starters with the notable exception of right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Anton Harrison, the No. 27 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, will start at right tackle. Also new to the offense: Veteran wide receiver Calvin Ridley, rookie second-round tight end Brenton Strange and rookie third-round running back Tank Bigsby.
"Everyone always asks about expectations and how you deal with them," Lawrence said. "You don't really deal with them, you just don't listen to them. I don't really care about them. It's more dangerous to have people praising you than, than to not have any expectations. We know how to work every day with the same mindset.
"What does it matter what this guy said over here? He is not in our locker room, he's not a part of our team. We just have to keep our ship tight, and I think that's the biggest thing that coach has done a good job of – making sure we do that, and managing all those expectations.
"They [expectations] are not real. We have to go play every Sunday and put our best foot forward and you can't do that if you're listening to what other people are saying."
- The Jaguars on Tuesday announced five permanent captains for 2023: Lawrence and right guard Brandon Scherff (offense), inside linebacker Foye Oluokun and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (defense) and safety Andrew Wingard (special teams). Pederson said Lawrence and Oluokun were the top vote-getters, and Pederson also names an additional captain each week. "My philosophy is I let the team speak and I stay out of it," Pederson said. "I want to see who they select as the leaders, the men on the football team that they trust and that they want to represent the team as captains."
- The Jaguars on Wednesday released their first injury report of the 2023 season, with safety Antonio Johnson (hamstring) not practicing and rookie defensive lineman Tyler Lacy (hip) limited. Johnson likely is a "week or two away," Pederson said.
- Starting defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi practiced full after missing the final two preseason games with a foot injury. "He had a nice workout Monday," Pederson said of Fatukasi. "We'll get him incorporated back in practice."
- Also: guard Tyler Shatley has been cleared for contact after being out most of training camp after an atrial fibrillation in early August.