Jags QB Trevor Lawrence practices with hopes of clearing concussion protocol and playing at Bucs

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, meets with Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Ravens won 23-7. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence practiced Friday despite remaining in the NFL's concussion protocol.

Lawrence sprinted from stretching lines to positions groups and looked sharp in individual passing drills. Coach Doug Pederson said Lawrence needed to go through practice and see how he responds to stress before he can gain medical clearance to play.

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“We’ll give him as much as we can, as much as he can tolerate," Pederson said.

Lawrence still would need to clear protocol before the team travels to Tampa Bay on Saturday to be able to play Sunday afternoon against the Buccaneers (7-7), who have won three in a row.

“He is trending in the right direction and hopefully things go well today," Pederson said.

Lawrence didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday but was in the facility with teammates and going through game-plan meetings.

“It's always good to see Trevor back out there. He's one of the toughest dudes I've been around," receiver Jamal Agnew said. "Obviously it's different with concussions. It's not a matter of toughness; it's a matter of safety and longevity. But we're thankful he could be out there.”

The Jaguars (8-6) believe Lawrence sustained a head injury while scrambling up the middle on the team’s final drive in a 23-7 loss to Baltimore on Sunday. Lawrence misfired on seven of his final eight passes after the hit, a stretch that raised concerns on the sideline about his health. Lawrence reported symptoms after the game.

Pederson said Lawrence's chances of playing Sunday are "better than a coin flip.”

There has been precedent for guys to play a week after entering the league’s concussion protocol, with San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy, Cleveland receiver Amari Cooper and New Orleans receiver Chris Olave gaining clearance before their next games.

If Lawrence doesn’t clear protocol, backup C.J. Beathard would make his first start since the 2020 season.

“Obviously we still got a lot of confidence in C.J. We've all been with C.J. two or three years now," Agnew said. "But Trevor is the guy."

Lawrence has been questionable to play several times over the last two seasons but found a way to avoid missing a start. He played through a sprained toe last year, a sprained knee in October and a high ankle sprain the past few weeks.

The Jaguars have lost three in a row and are tied with Houston and Indianapolis atop the AFC South. But Jacksonville remains in control of its playoff destiny because of divisional tiebreakers. A loss, though, likely would drop Jacksonville out of first place for the first time since Week 3.

“It seems like this is a comfort level of theirs to play like this,” Pederson said, referring to last year's team starting 3-7 and winning its last five regular-season games to clinch the division. “That’s OK as long as they go out and play well and compete. That's all you can ask for and let the chips fall. They’ve handled this week well.”

The Jags already are without receiver Christian Kirk (groin) and left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) on offense and won't have receiver Zay Jones (knee/hamstring). Being without Lawrence would be an entirely different obstacle to overcome for a franchise trying to make the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1998-99.

Lawrence has thrown for 3,525 yards this season, with 18 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. He also has four rushing scores and six fumbles, and he’s been sacked a career-high-tying 32 times.


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