The Jacksonville Jaguars started the week off on a high note Monday, getting back to live hitting during the team's first practice after its preseason Week 1 loss against the Cleveland Browns.
The practice was held in the evening at TIAA Bank Field, a change from their typical training camp stomping grounds at Episcopal School of Jacksonville at Knight Field, something that head coach Doug Pederson says was intentional, an effort to break things up a bit as the team continues through camp.
“You hit that one on the head (if it was to break things up)," Pederson explained on Monday shortly prior to practice. "It does break it up, plus we haven’t had fans at practice, and it gives our organization and their families a chance to come and watch the guys practice tonight and just a way to get back together with them.”
Monday's session was planned well in advance, but the location wasn't. It was a special surprise for both the players, media, family members and friends in attendance.
What was planned, however, was the team's intensity during the practice itself, which featured live hitting (aside from the quarterback) for the second time during camp. Prior to hitting the field, Pederson laid out what he wanted to see from his group this go around, including some physicality.
“Protect each other. One of the periods (Monday night) will be the run game, so defensively being able to fit those gaps and still work on the run defense that way," he explained.
"I’m kind of caught in the middle. I want to succeed offensively, but at the same time I want the defense to stop them. Those are the things you’ve got to see out of practices like this. It’ll be a little cooler tonight for the guys so they ought to be able to fly around and enjoy the night.”
That's exactly what Pederson got on Monday. Sandwiched in between some of the more rudimentary portions of practice such as individual drills, Jacksonville made the evening feel more like an event, working on both the run and the pass game.
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence would connect on several throws, including a couple of nice passes to Zay Jones over the middle of the field. He also connected once with veteran receiver Marvin Jones on a beautiful deep route during the middle of practice.
Still, it was an active night for the Jaguars' defense. After struggling with some miss-fits during their first preseason game, the starting unit attacked and bounced back against the Cleveland Browns.
That remained true Monday evening with players such as defensive tackle Roy Robertson-Harris and DaVon Hamilton got in on the action, stuffing the run on multiple occasions. One thing's for certain, the players enjoy the padded practices, and their energy could be felt from the first to the final whistle on Monday.
"It's way easier," Hamilton told News4Jax's Jamal St. Cyr shortly after practice on Monday when asked if he prefers the full practices. "It makes the game slower once we get out on gameday and it allows us to compete at a higher level than when we are in spiders."
Starters set to play a lot vs. Steelers
Though it's still early in the week, Pederson was asked Monday about the team's participation that'll take place on Saturday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers roll into town. Simply put: they'll play and play a lot.
"For me I do want to see our starters play a little longer, go a little deeper in the second quarter," Pederson said when posed the question regarding playing time for his squad on Saturday.
"Our defensive starters haven’t played a ton in the first two games. They’ve done well, they just haven’t played a whole lot. I want to see them play a little bit more in this game and same with the offense.
"Again just start seeing the consistency with those two units. Overall, just treating this like a normal in-season game plan type game then get ready for Atlanta next week.”
The Jaguars have already played two games due to the extra preseason game that took place during the team's Hall of Fame week just before Jaguars Hall of Fame left tackle Tony Boselli was officially enshrined in Canton.
Because of that, Pederson is utilizing this week to essentially be what was a typical Week 3 preseason matchup prior to the league reducing the preseason to just three weeks in 2021. Saturday will be an opportunity for Jacksonville to see its team perform with all of its major players playing a bit longer to prep for the regular season.
James Robinson, Devin Lloyd nearing return
Running back James Robinson hasn't taken a hit since tearing his Achilles late in the 2021 season. On Monday, though, he got just that much closer to returning to his old self when he saw some repetitions in the team's 7-on-7 period for the first time since camp opened up in July.
Still, he sported a red penny jersey, indicating "no contact," something that will likely remain for a bit longer.
— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) August 15, 2022
“You’ll see him in some team drills. We’re going to keep him out of contact drills, though, this week and keep progressing him along. He’s doing well, and that’s the goal, keep progressing him for the next few days.”
The same can be said for Lloyd, who hasn't participated fully in camp since it opened on July 25. Lloyd has been nursing a hamstring strain, but has been getting a bit more active over the past several days. Still, he's closer to returning than Robinson, who Pederson officially ruled on on Monday.
"Devin is closer, but we’ve got to see today then Wednesday and Thursday where he’s at to make a determination if he can play in the game," Pederson said when asked if Lloyd would play this week against Pittsburgh.
Kirk returns, Shenault still limited
Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk returned to practice on Monday after missing last week's game against the Browns due to a rolled ankle, a precaution that Pederson felt was necessary. Still, Kirk was able to line up and perform all of the practice duties Monday, seemingly fine after being held out.
Though receiver Laviska Shenault was available at practice on Monday, he didn't participate in any team drills at the receiver position. Still, he was able to participate in punt-return drills, continuing to work his way back from an undisclosed injury.
Entering his third year with the club, Shenault has plenty of ground to make up in battling for a spot as one of the team's top receivers. Currently, the team has been utilizing players such as WR Zay Jones, Kirk and Marvin Jones as the top three receivers on the team.
Demetrius Harvey is the Jacksonville Jaguars reporter for the Florida Times-Union. You can follow him on Twitter at @Demetrius82.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jaguars' Doug Pederson talks week ahead, players return with energy