JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are treating tight end Josh Pederson like they did Tim Tebow.
No interviews, please.
Head coach Doug Pederson’s son has been off limits to reporters, even in-house productions, through the first week of training camp. It’s a curious decision considering teammates and coaches insist Pederson is like anyone else trying to make the roster.
But while the rest of the roster has been available, Josh Pederson has been mostly shielded. Sure, he took part in an autograph session with his fellow tight ends Monday, but the Jaguars have declined repeated interview requests for the former USFL player who signed to play for his father nearly a month ago.
It’s reminiscent of how the franchise handled Tebow two years ago. While the 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was trying to reprise his NFL career as a tight end in his hometown and alongside his former college coach, Urban Meyer, he declined every interview request during his five months in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars expect to make Pederson available at some point, but no one can say when it will happen.
“He’s one of the guys. If I look at him as the coach’s son, then it’s a little weird,” pass rusher Josh Allen said. “To me, he’s just another teammate.
“He’s somebody that you can really sit down and have a conversation with, shoot the crap with him. I won’t talk about his father, obviously. It doesn’t come up, and it will probably never come up to anybody else.”
The Jaguars signed Pederson in early July to replace undrafted rookie Leonard Taylor, who was waived with an injury designation. Pederson caught 24 passes for 325 yards in 10 games with the Houston Gamblers in the USFL this spring. The Gamblers terminated his contract so he could sign with Jacksonville — and play for his father.
“It’s like any other young player coming in and competing,” Doug Pederson said. “And when he gets opportunities, he tries to make the most of them. That’s with any young player. Part of me is the coach, part of me is the dad side of it. But we’ll do everything we can with all of our players to make sure they’re ready to go and give them opportunities to compete.”
The coach joked that Mrs. Pederson has no say in the signing and acknowledged he might have to cut his kid, especially since the Jaguars have a fairly settled tight end room that includes veteran Evan Engram, recent draft picks Brenton Strange and Luke Farrell, and first-year player Gerrit Prince who’s raised eyebrows in camp.
“He’s a smart kid, which obviously helps, and he’s a hard-working kid,” tight ends coach Richard Angulo said. “I know he’s Doug’s son, but I don’t feel like that on a daily basis. He’s just one of our tight ends that we’re trying to get better. His approach is the same way.
“I definitely like where he’s at. Obviously we got a long way to go, all of us, but he’s on his way.”
The Pedersons are a rarity in the NFL, which has far more father-son duos in the coaching ranks. Fathers and sons as coaches and players has happened more often in other professional sports. Doc and Austin Rivers did it in the NBA. Cal Ripken Sr. and Jr. did it in Major League Baseball, along with Felipe and Moisés Alou and Dale and Yogi Berra as well as Bill and Kevin Dineen in the NHL.
Josh Pederson has yet to play an NFL snap, but he’s been with San Francisco (2021), New Orleans (2021) and Kansas City (2022) since his four-year college career at Louisiana-Monroe. He’s spent plenty of time in Jacksonville over the past two seasons, which helped ease his transition into the locker room — just not the interview room.
“Honestly, I thought he would know the offense more than I do, but he’s been asking me every single question,” Engram said. “He’s been real eager to learn. He’s real eager for the opportunity he has. He does not take it for granted, and it’s pretty cool just to see the dynamic.
“He looks just like Doug, so it’s kind of funny but he’s a great dude. He’s a great teammate already and I’m enjoying working with him.” By MARK LONG AP Pro Football Writer