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This Thursday marks the official beginning of the NFL preseason with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, but two big stars will be absent from the contest.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson announced on Tuesday that 2021 first-round picks Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne will miss Thursday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
In recent years, more and more starters, especially quarterbacks, have seen limited action in preseason, and the Jaguars are joining that fad.
However, it might surprise some people to see Lawrence, who led the NFL with 17 interceptions last year, be sat out this early. Pederson said Lawrence has been just fine during practice, and the team is confident in last year’s first overall pick.
“Trevor’s been getting a lot of great looks here in practice,” Pederson told reporters, via NFL.com, “and (we) feel he’s in a good spot.”
Etienne, who was the 25th pick last year, missed the entire 2021 season after injuring his foot in the preseason. So it makes sense that Jacksonville wouldn’t want to risk anything further.
Instead of using the game as an opportunity to give certain players who may need it some warmup reps, Pederson is instead using the game to evaluate other pieces of his roster.
“It’s still evaluation time, we’re still evaluating our roster,” Pederson added. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and a lot of battles that we want to start seeing in game situations.”
The game kicks off at 8 p.m. on Thursday, and it will be Pederson’s first game as a head coach since being fired by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2020 season.
Week 1 will be Etienne’s NFL debut and will bring the two Clemson Tigers together again.