In previous weeks, Trevor Lawrence managed to play in spite of playing hurt. Not against the Carolina Panthers. The Jacksonville Jaguars have already ruled out Lawrence, who's dealing with a shoulder sprain, for Week 17, putting an end to his streak of 49 consecutive starts. On the bright side, left tackle Cam Robinson is set to return to the lineup.
The Jaguars posted their final injury report for Week 17 and Lawrence was the only player they ruled out. Robinson and wide receiver Zay Jones, for their part, got the questionable tag. Ezra Cleveland and Walker Little were limited in practice throughout the week but both will be suiting up.
On the days preceding the game, the Jags activated Robinson to return from Injured Reserve. He hurt his knee in Week 12 and missed four games. However, Doug Pederson was optimistic the veteran tackle would return in time for a potential playoff run.
With Lawrence out for Sunday, C.J. Beathard will get the nod against Carolina. This marks the first time he'll make a start since Week 16 of the 2020 season. While Lawrence had dealt with a handful of injuries in 2023, this will be the first time he sits a game out. Previously, he dealt with a knee injury, an ankle sprain, and a concussion but he hadn't missed time until now.
There's no doubt Lawrence gives the Jaguars their best chance to win. Head coach Doug Pederson acknowledged as much when he was in concussion protocol. Although Beathard is always ready to go, Lawrence's status hasn't changed the way he approaches his preparation. Now, he'll be tasked with leading Jacksonville to a win over the Panthers.
Working in Beathard's favor is that Lawrence didn't practice this week, so he got all the first-team reps in practice. That's not usually the case. This season, Beathard is 23-of-29 for 171 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Here's the report the Jags posted on social media.
The Jaguars need to find a way to beat the Panthers without Trevor Lawrence
Although not having Trevor Lawrence in the mix hurts the Jaguars' chances, they need to find a way to win. The good news is that C.J. Beathard will have Cam Robinson protecting his left side. Similarly, he'll have a wide array of weapons at his disposal, including tight end Evan Engram, Calvin Ridley, and rookies Elijah Cooks and Parker Washington.
The defense should also be at full strength, or as close as it can be. Cornerback Tyson Campell was limited in practice but didn't appear in the final injury report. He and safety Andre Cisco have missed time with injuries but both seem to be healthier. Having said that, it doesn't matter if the Jaguars have most of their playmakers available if they don't clean up the mistakes that have held them back in the four-game losing streak.
With two games left in the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars will probably need to win out to qualify for the playoffs. And they'll have to do it without Trevor Lawrence. If there was a time to show out, this is it.