Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne's return to the gridiron will have to wait another week. New Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson announced Tuesday that the second-year quarterback and running back wouldn't suit up for the team's first preseason game of the season Thursday night against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Backup Jake Luton will start at quarterback.
Pederson didn't say if running back James Robinson, who is listed ahead of Etienne on the team's unofficial depth chart, would see action after tearing his Achilles late last season.
This isn't a cause for concern and sounds more like Pederson wants the young duo to get more practice time before throwing them into full-contact games. Both are learning a new offense and Etienne is coming off a foot injury that forced him to miss his entire rookie season. It's also just the preseason, where teams are more cautious with their star players.
Lawrence's development is priority No. 1 for the Jaguars this season. It's why the team hired a former Super Bowl-winning head coach in Pederson and overpaid for better offensive linemen like Brandon Scherff and receiver Christian Kirk. That, plus the return of his former Clemson running mate in Etienne, should signal a strong sophomore season for the 2021 No. 1 overall pick.
Jacksonville is trying to remove the stain left by Urban Meyer this past season and that begins with making sure the team has all its ducks in a row for when the fully operational version of the Jaguars hits the field. By sitting his two young stars, Pederson is leaning on his veterans to maintain the continuity of the offense while the young guns continue to gain confidence.
In a weaker AFC South, the Jaguars have an outside chance to surprise the NFL world. Jacksonville has a win total at BetMGM of 6.5, are +750 to win the division and +450 to make the playoffs this season. But that hinges on Lawrence and Etienne living up to their first-round billing. The two lit up college football for three seasons but haven't played a regular season game together yet after Etienne's preseason injury in 2021.
Sadly, the world won't see the two together again just yet.