Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Pederson plans to play most of his starters in the team’s preseason opener at Dallas on Saturday.
Pederson said Wednesday he won’t play them “long at all,” maybe a series or two. But it’ll be the first game action for receiver Calvin Ridley since Oct. 24, 2021. Ridley, playing through a broken left foot that season, stepped away to address his mental health following a home robbery. He was suspended for the entire 2022 season because he bet on the NFL while away from the Atlanta Falcons.
The Jaguars traded two draft picks to get Ridley last November, and he’s been the team’s most dynamic player through the first two weeks of training camp. Now, he’ll join teammates Trevor Lawrence, Christian Kirk and Evan Engram in a game for the first time.
“Yeah, I think it’s important for them to play, to feel the excitement around a game,” Pederson said. “Don’t plan on playing them long at all, but just want to get them in, get them out but still get some quality work in.”
All eyes will be on Ridley, who caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020 despite the injury. He had 31 receptions for 281 yards and two scores before sitting out the final two months of the 2021 season.
Pederson on Trevor Lawrence: “You can put the team on his back.”
Pederson said Ridley is unlikely to play much longer than the other starters.
“No, not necessarily,” Pederson said. “I don’t need to see him too much longer, so I probably won’t play him much past the ones.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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