The Jacksonville Jaguars may not need backup quarterback C.J. Beathard to play in Week 14 after all. Just days after suffering an ankle sprain, Trevor Lawrence is trending toward playing against the Cleveland Browns. The star quarterback was limited in practice the past two games but he's listed as questionable for Sunday.
Running back Travis Etienne (ribs), defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi (heel), D'Ernest Johnson (knee), cornerback Tyson Campbell (groin) also got the questionablet tag on the team's final injury report.
Head coach Doug Pederson told the local media Friday that Lawrence will be a game-time decision, noting that he'll play if he feels good, "We'll see, he moved around a little bit yesterday, see how he does today, base it on the medical staff, how Trevor feels, if he can go, or not."
On the other hand, Pederson sounded less optimistic about left tackle Walker Little, cornerback Tyson Campbell, and tight end Brenton Strange, calling them all game-time decisions. Little has already been ruled out, along with Strange, cornerback Tre Herndon (concussion), and rookie Christian Braswell, who's just made his return from Injured Reserve but hasn't been brought up to speed.
Lawrence sprained his ankle when he bumped into Little in the fourth quarter of the 34-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. While he was able to walk off the field, he needed assistance to do so, opting not to ride the medical cart. The third-year quarterback said Wednesday that refusing the cart may've been a dumb idea in retrospect.
The day after the injury, Pederson refused to offer a timeline for Lawrence's recovery, noting that he didn't want to box him into a corner. He also didn't rule him out for Sunday. Having practiced the past Thursday and Friday, it does look like the star signal-caller does have a chance to face the Browns. Here's a clip of him practicing Friday, via Demetrius Harvey of The Florida Times-Union.
Walker Little, for his part, left the Bengals game with a hamstring injury not long after Lawrence got hurt. If he isn't good to go, offensive guard Ezra Cleveland could fill in for him in Week 14. While Cleveland has mostly lined up at left guard throughout his career, he's previously played for offensive line coach Phil Rauscher. This could in turn help him get ready to line up on the edge.
Rookie Brenton Strange could sit out his second game in a row. He missed the Monday Night bout after getting hurt in practice. As noted before, Pederson wasn't enthused about his chances of suiting up, so it's not surprising that he's been already ruled a no-go for the game.
The Jaguars have a chance to beat the Browns, with or without Trevor Lawrence
The Jacksonville Jaguars have dealt with a rash of injuries this season but the Cleveland Browns have had their own share, having lost Deshaun Watson, running back Nick Chubb, left tackle Jedrick Willis Jr., safety Rodney McLeod and right tackle Jack Conklin.
As of this writing, the Jags are a three-point underdog, so bettors expect this one to be a close one despite the fact that it will be at FirstEnergy Stadium, and the weather will be less than ideal. Head coach Kevin Stefanski says that naming a starting quarterback will be a game-time decision, meaning that Jacksonville could face either rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson or veteran Joe Flacco.
Having Trevor Lawrence behind center should most definitely increase the Jags' chances of coming out of Cleveland with a win. That said, not having Walker Little in the lineup isn't ideal. On the other hand, they could overcome Campbell's and Strange's respective absences. Monatric Brown has previously done a solid job of filling for Tyson Campbell, so they should be fine without him.
The same is true for Brenton Strange. While the former Penn State Nittany Lion is a superb blocker, he's currently TE3 on the depth chart behind Evan Engram, and Luke Farrell, so his potential absence won't tip the scale much.
The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars could be without several key players in Week 14 but they should still have a favorable chance of beating the Cleveland Browns.