NFL: EJ Perry throws first NFL TD during first career start for the Jaguars in final preseason game

The good thing about playing quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars during the preseason is you’re going to get time to play with Trevor Lawrence on the bench.

The bad thing is that you’re playing behind the Jacksonville Jaguars’ backup offensive line.

Former Brown superstar EJ Perry got to start an NFL game for the first time and play the entire game for the first time against the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday afternoon as both teams finished off their preseason schedule. The Jaguars lost the game 28-12, but obviously the result didn’t matter. What mattered is that Perry looked good when he actually had time to throw. That, and he also threw his first NFL touchdown pass in this one. He should have had two, but the first one was called back in the first quarter.

Whether Perry is the backup to Lawrence, a third string guy behind CJ Beathard, on the practice squad or back out in the free agent world will be determined by Tuesday at 4 P.M. when teams have to get down to the 53-man roster, but he made a strong case for one of those spots.

“I thought he did some good things,” said Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson. “I did feel like there were some things where maybe he tried to press a little bit and try to make something happen, which sometimes young players can do that, but I thought overall he made some really good decisions, good throws, played tough, played physical, he took some shots there in the second half, just something he can learn from.”

The numbers don’t leap off the page (19/37, 201 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT, 54.0 passer rating), but if you watched the game, it was clear Perry can make every throw when given the time. He extended plays at times, made some nice throws on the run, showed off his accuracy on deep balls and even ran for 10 yards on two carries as well. The interceptions came when a ball deflected off a receiver’s hands on a very catchable ball and then when he had some serious pressure in his face almost immediately after the snap.

The first TD that was called back due to holding was a great play on 3rd-&-9 where he rolled right to escape some pressure and threw about a 25-yard bullet on the run to the front right pylon where it was caught before the flag came out. With 17 seconds left in the first half and the Jags trailing 14-6, Perry finally got his first NFL TD with a quick little slant to La’Quan Treadwell from 7-yards out.

Perry played the entire second half as well but couldn’t find the end zone again as the Jags’ offensive line continued to give him little to no support. Still, the performance could have earned him a job, if not in Jacksonville, then with another team. If it doesn’t? Well, he’ll always have that full game August 27, 2022 in Atlanta.

“It doesn’t come along,” Pederson added of a quarterback having the opportunity to take every snap in a preseason game. “Even with Atlanta playing (Desmond) Ridder playing well into the fourth quarter too, that’s what they need to see. You need to see that from young guys, young quarterbacks and how they can handle some of the pressure and playing with not really the starters.

“Just going in and being to manage getting in and out of the huddle, getting guys lined up…I’ve been there, I understand what that’s like to direct traffic a little bit, but I thought he was able to handle that pretty well.”