Jaguars QB Lawrence taking 'cautious and aggressive' approach to returning from sprained shoulder

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Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson meets with quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) on the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Trevor Lawrence is trying to be cautious and aggressive with his sprained throwing shoulder, hoping the approach could help him return to the starting lineup for Jacksonville's pivotal regular-season finale at Tennessee on Sunday.

Lawrence practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday, but he didn't throw during the portion of practice open to reporters. He missed all of last week while resting his right shoulder and sat out Sunday's 26-0 win against Carolina, ending a streak of 51 consecutive starts for the first overall pick in the 2021 draft.

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“It’s feeling better," Lawrence said Wednesday. “Obviously missing last week’s game is a little slower than I would’ve liked it to be progressing, but it actually feels pretty decent. It’s getting better every day. Just trying to be cautious but also aggressive in how I’m trying to treat it so I can to get back as quick as possible but also be smart. So it’s a fine line.”

Lawrence sprained an AC joint while diving for a first down on a fourth-and-1 play the previous week at Tampa Bay. He could barely lift his arm in the locker room afterward and has been unable to throw much since.

“Certain movements bother it more than others,” he said. “There’s some things that I can do and there’s some areas where I have totally normal strength and it’s functional and all that. But in certain positions, it does get a little bit ... there’s some aggravation, but that’s getting better every day. Still would like to see that go down a little bit more before I just totally let it loose.”

The Jaguars (9-7) need a victory against the Titans to secure the AFC South for the second consecutive season. They could still make the playoffs with a loss, but they would need Pittsburgh and Denver to lose to eke into the postseason as the AFC's No. 7 seed.

Lawrence wants to be on the field for it instead of watching from the sideline.

“The way I see it, if you can play, you play. If you can’t, then you can’t and you don’t,” Lawrence said. "I do think it can be difficult depending on the injury to make that decision sometimes. You got to weigh, one, can I play close to my best to help the team? And, two, is this going to affect me long term to where next week or the following week is it still going to be lingering if I decide to play?

“I think you got to weigh that. That could be difficult, but I think that the whole commitment deal is this: This game is important and guys understand that on this team, and if you can play, you play.”

Lawrence has thrown for 3,736 yards this season, with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also has run for four scores and lost seven fumbles.

He's been banged up most of the season, leaving games with a sprained left knee injury, a sprained right ankle injury, a concussion and most recently a sprained shoulder.

If Lawrence is able to play, he could have receiver Christian Kirk back. Kirk spent the past four weeks on injured reserve following groin surgery. The Jaguars opened Kirk's 21-day return window Wednesday and had him going through normal practice drills. But coach Doug Pederson stopped short of declaring Kirk good to go.

“Obviously, we don’t want any setback, so this will be a slow, gradual process,” Pederson said. "But it’ll be good to get him out there.”

Kirk said he tore his left abductor off the bone and had been playing through a torn abdominal muscle on the other side since Week 6.

“The fact that I’m standing here in front of you guys in cleats, being able to go out in the practice field, is still kind of surreal to me," Kirk said. "I’ve been working tirelessly every single day. I’ve been in here, sometimes the last person to leave, just doing everything that I can to get back as fast as I can because I want to be available.

“I want to help bring this team where we all want to go. It’s taken a lot of work, and I’m really happy with where I’m at.”



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