The Jacksonville Jaguars took the practice fields at Episcopal School of Jacksonville for one last time on Tuesday before heading off to Canton to participate in the Hall of Fame Game. The team will be taking on the Las Vegas Raiders in the process, and the game will technically mark the start of the 2022 NFL season.
With the game coming up, it was somewhat of a walkthrough day for the team, who are now on Day 8 of training camp. As expected, Jags coach Doug Pederson had a chat with the media beforehand to update the fans on where the team stands heading into Thursday’s game.
That said, a lot of Day 8’s takeaways came from Pederson himself, but some things happened on the field that was worth taking note of. Here are some of the nuggets we were able to gather along the way as the team will have Wednesday off to travel:
Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne won’t play Thursday
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands off to running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) during Monday morning’s training camp session as quarterback CJ Beathard (3) looks on. The Jacksonville Jaguars held training camp Monday, August 1, 2022, at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville Knight Campus practice fields on Atlantic Blvd. One of the first things Pederson informed the media of was the game day status of Trevor Lawrence, who will be withheld from Thursday’s game. The reason for that is because Pederson feels good about where the second-year quarterback is as he’s received a lot of practice reps throughout Week 1 and 2 of camp. With that being the case, it seems there is no reason to risk injury as the Jags will have three more preseason games to get the young quarterback reps in.
Pederson also said the team would be holding Travis Etienne out as he’s coming off a Lisfranc injury. While he’s been 100% at camp, the veteran head coach is simply being smart with Etienne, who has been a big-time star in camp and figures to be a key player for the offense.
In general, it seems like the Jags could hold out a majority of their starters Thursday as Pederson said he wanted to get a lot of young players on the field a few days ago. That’s a wise move for a young team like the Jags, who have a lot of young drafted and undrafted selections worth evaluating.
Jake Luton will get the start at QB vs. Las Vegas
Aug 17, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Jake Luton (6) passes the ball during training camp at Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Not only will Lawrence be sidelined Thursday, but so will No. 2 quarterback CJ Beathard (recovering from a groin injury). That means Jake Luton will get the start, and he also should get a lot of reps as he’s one of the two quarterbacks who will play Thursday.
Luton met with the media after practice Tuesday and said his goal was to simply go out on the field and execute.
“I’m just want to go out there and execute,” Luton said. “I think this camp we’ve done a lot of good things, and we’ll go out there and put our best foot forward. I just want to move the ball around, get the ball in my guy’s hands, and just help the offense be in the best position we can to just execute. Go out and score points. I think that the bottom line is just execution.”
While he’s only been in the league for three seasons, Luton isn’t new to starting. As a rookie, he started three games for the Jags, who had major quarterback issues in 2020. He went 60-of-110 (54.5%) in the process for 624 yards, two touchdowns, and six picks. As for his preseason stats, he’s played in two games and has a 77.4% completion rate (24-of-31) for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
Thursday’s game presents a grand opportunity for Luton, and if he can execute and put up points for the Jags, it certainly would make things more interesting for the QB2 spot.
Snoop Conner continues to gain momentum heading into first game
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Snoop Conner (24) on the field during Monday morning’s training camp session. The Jacksonville Jaguars held training camp Monday, August 1, 2022, at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville Knight Campus practice fields on Atlantic Blvd. On Monday, rookie running back Snoop Conner had a solid day of practice on his birthday. However, on Tuesday, Conner picked up where he left off, though the practice was a scaled-down session.
According to News4Jax’s Jamal St. Cyr, Conner showed some good vision on Tuesday. With his first game coming up, the rookie understands that a gran opportunity is ahead for him, and he could be the starting running back on Thursday as Etienne and James Robinson won’t play.
The Jags drafted Conner in the fifth round of April’s draft after trading up to the 188th selection (from No. 198). That means they have a plan for him, and he could prove that he’s ready for it with a strong first game.
Pederson spoke highly of rookie Luke Fortner
Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson talks with offensive linemen (79) Luke Fortner, (77) Nick Ford and (61) CJ Wright during Friday’s Rookie Minicamp session. The Jacksonville Jaguars held their first Rookie Minicamp on the turf of TIAA Bank Field Friday afternoon, May 13, 2022. Among those in attendance were the team’s 2022 draft picks. One of the players Pederson was asked about was offensive lineman Luke Fortner. He said the rookie was “unbelievable” and added that he’s going to only get better as things slow down for him.
One of the players Pederson was asked about was offensive lineman Luke Fortner. He said the rookie was “unbelievable” and added that he’s going to only get better as things slow down for him.
Fortner has taken all of the reps with the starters at center, so all signs point to him being the guy there in the regular season. As Pederson mentioned, the position can be somewhat hard to learn for a rookie, but that’s the great part about getting him the reps early in the preseason.
Fortner, who played collegiate football at Kentucky, was the first pick in the third round of April’s draft. When looking at the film there is a lot to like about his game like his high football IQ, agility, and the competition level he faced at the Southeastern Conference. Now, fans will get to hopefully see all of that on Thursday, when it seems like he could be a starter.
For the fans, watching Fortner will understandably be exciting, as he’s set to play a key role in protecting Lawrence eventually. Additionally, with the Jags moving on from longtime center Brandon Linder, Thursday’s game will be the start of a new era as the hope is that Fortner is the team’s long-term guy in the middle.
Pederson says both Jamal Agnew and James Robinson are getting closer to 100%
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jamal Agnew (39) puts on his helmet during the Jaguars minicamp session at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
Jki 061522 Jagswednesdayrookieminicamp 05 Two players fans are eagerly waiting to see back on the field this regular season is Robinson and receiver Jamal Agnew, both of whom are playmakers for the team and will be coming off major injuries. As fans are aware, Robinson tore his Achilles in December and Agnew sustained a gruesome hip injury in November. That put both players in a situation where they’ve been gradually recovering this offseason, but things seem to be heading in a positive direction for them.
On Tuesday, Pederson provided an update on both and said they are getting closer to 100%. In Agnew’s case, Pederson even said the veteran could get some meaningful time on the field next week as the team prepares for the Cleveland Browns.
“He’s getting close,” Pederson said about the returner and receiver. “I’m really hoping next week as we get ready for the Cleveland game, he gets some meaningful time in some of the team settings. I’m big about really protecting these guys that have these types of injuries and that making sure they’re 100% healthy before we put them out there.”
As for Robinson, Pederson says he’s reaching a point where they can ramp things up a bit, but are still looking to make sure he’s good in the minds of the doctors.
“He’s getting closer,” Pederson said. “We’re at that part of his rehab where it’s time to kind of push through just a little bit. It’s good to see him back out there. But again, making sure that he’s 100% comfortable. We’re comfortable with the docs, really with both of those guys, before we cut them loose.”
This is great news to hear for the offensive and special teams units. Robinson has been the biggest source of offense for the Jags since he joined them, and Agnew is one of the best returners in football. Agnew could also bolster the receivers corps as he brings speed and good hands to the unit, too.