May 25, 2024

Saints QB Derek Carr plays despite injury but struggles in loss

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr didn’t want to use his shoulder injury as an excuse for the team’s offensive performance in a 26-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But it was possibly one factor in the loss, which extended the Saints’ streak of scoring 20 points or less to 11 straight games. The Saints (2-2) were booed at home multiple times on Sunday.

“We got our ass beat today,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “Unacceptable. Obviously, nobody is happy about it.”

Carr completed 23-of-37 passes for 137 yards and no touchdowns in the loss and had only 79 passing yards through three quarters. His day ended with a sack/fumble with less than four minutes left at the Saints 25-yard line.

“Just really inconsistency right now,” Carr said. “Just too inconsistent for the standard that we set for ourselves, and the inconsistency isn’t going to get you wins in this league.”

Carr, who has a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder, was slow to get up after the last sack and was helped up by teammates before walking off the field. The Saints put in backup Jameis Winston on the next drive, but he threw an interception on his first play with 2:24 remaining.

When asked if any of the hits were particularly bad, Carr joked “they all hurt,” but didn’t say any of them would have lingering effects.

“It’s football,” he said. “Everything is gonna be sore.”

Allen said Carr looked good throwing in practice on Friday after not taking team snaps on Wednesday or Thursday, which led to the decision to start him. He said he didn’t notice the shoulder holding him back during the actual game but couldn’t say for sure.

“I don’t think there was anything in there that made me feel like he can’t play,” Allen said. “Did he miss some throws? Yeah, he missed some throws. Is it related to the shoulder injury? I can’t tell you that. I thought we had some opportunities … and I don’t think we took advantage of the opportunities that we had.”

Allen said the only thing he noticed was Carr’s shoulder getting sore toward the end of the game, which led to the decision to put Winston in. He did not consider switching quarterbacks earlier in the game despite the offensive struggles.

“There’s probably a couple of throws where I felt like it might have come up a little bit short and I don’t know that was relative to the shoulder or not,” Allen said.

Allen said they will see how Carr comes out of the game health-wise and go from there in terms of his start against the New England Patriots next Sunday.

“I’m going to do my best to get ready to go this week and hopefully be ready for practice on Wednesday, and if not Wednesday, Thursday, and I’m going to do whatever I can for our team,” Carr said.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence wanted to make something perfectly clear: The team did have a cart available to take him off the field after he injured his right ankle against Cincinnati on Monday night.

He just didn’t want to use it.

Lawrence said Wednesday he was pretty close to the tunnel entrance and felt like it would be quicker for him to walk with some help to the EverBank Stadium locker room and X-ray facility than to wait for the cart to maneuver its way through the extra equipment to get to him. So that’s what he did — though he did admit he may have had some regret.

“We talked about getting a cart and I was going to get a cart, and then I’m standing there and I’m already on the sideline at that point, the tunnel’s right there, I just wanted to get off the field, get out of there,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t know what was going on with my ankle and I felt like I could get off [the field]. I was like, ‘Hey, you’re good. Just don’t bring it out. I’m going in.’

“And then once I got in there [the hallway], I’m like, ‘This is a pretty long walk.’ They asked again if I wanted a cart. I’m like, ‘No, we’re going to make it the whole way there.'”

The television footage of Lawrence, with people under each arm assisting him, walking in the tunnel and hallway of EverBank Stadium has drawn criticism on social media, television and radio. Jaguars punter Logan Cooke defended the team on social media by going after one of the more notable critics.

Lawrence found it ludicrous that people would actually think the Jaguars wouldn’t have a cart available for an injured player.

“We have everything we need, and I was the one that that didn’t choose to take [a cart] so you guys put that on me,” he said. “Maybe that was dumb. Maybe I should have taken one, but it’s nothing to do with us not having a cart available. I don’t think that would happen in the National Football League, especially here with the crew that we have.”

Lawrence said Wednesday his right ankle feels much better than he anticipated it would two days after suffering a high ankle sprain. The injury occured when left tackle Walker Little stepped on Lawrence’s foot and the quarterback had it get caught underneath him when he fell.

He’s happy with the way his rehab has gone so far and is hopeful that continues, and that he can get cleared to play at the Browns on Sunday.

“I’m really just taking it one day at a time,” Lawrence said. “I’m trying to do as much as I can each day without aggravating it or making anything worse but trying to progress towards hopefully playing. And for the past 48 hours there have been some big steps and I’m really happy with how it’s healing up.

“So, we’ll see. You know, I obviously can’t give any answers right now and just going to take my time and do everything right.”

There is precedent to returning one week after suffering a high ankle sprain. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes started the 2022 AFC Championship Game against the Bengals eight days after he suffered that injury against the Jaguars in a divisional playoff game. He was able to practice fully the Thursday before the Bengals game, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid announced Friday of game week Mahomes would start.

Mahomes went 29-for-43 for 326 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Chiefs’ 23-20 victory.

It’s a bit of a different situation for Lawrence because the Jaguars won’t have their best pass-catcher (receiver Christian Kirk is out with a groin injury) and also could be starting their third left tackle if Little (hamstring) is unable to play.

“I don’t want to compare two injuries,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Two different people [and] the circumstance of playing in a conference championship game versus a regular season game are two different things. But obviously they felt — they being the Chiefs — like he was good. He couldn’t hurt himself further and obviously he played. That’s the case here. We want to make sure that before we put him on the field that as this week goes that he’s capable of not reinjuring himself.”

Pederson said Lawrence won’t play unless there’s no chance he could do any further damage to his right ankle. Being in a tight division race — the Jaguars (8-4) have a one-game lead over the Texans and Colts — and fighting for playoff seeding will have no bearing on that decision, either.

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