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The Jaguars have wrapped up organized team activities and are set, ready to head into the mandatory minicamp portion of the offseason just before a five-six-week hiatus in preparation for training camp.
One player that has been in the crosshairs of plenty of media and fan observers is second-year running back Travis Etienne who spent his rookie season on the team’s reserve/injured list due to a Lisfranc injury suffered during the team’s preseason last year.
Since the media has been present at OTAs this year, plenty of clips and musings have come out about his speed and recovery from his devastating mid-foot injury. On the first day of OTAs, Etienne was given the vote of approval from head coach Doug Pederson, officially clearing him for full participation in on-field activities.
That part of the process was big; there was question regarding whether or not Etienne would make it back by training camp, let along being able to be a full go less than a year since he originally underwent surgery. Since his return to full participation, there hasn’t appeared to be a drop-off in his ability. In fact, it appears – according to many observers – Etienne might have an opportunity to get back to his original self.
That’s huge, and Pederson echoed those same sentiments during the last media availability, just prior to the team’s seventh OTA session on Monday, stating that he’s progression “really well.”
“Gosh, it’s just exciting to get him out here and get him on the grass this whole offseason and really work with him,” Pederson said. “He’s doing a great job handling a lot of information we’re throwing at the guys and putting him in different spots. [We’re] just seeing what he can do right now.”
Last year, former Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer drew some criticism amongst many observers and fans for putting Etienne at receiver, taking away his time from his best position as a running back. Well, that much hasn’t change (though, perhaps the narrative surrounding it has). Etienne has taken snaps as a receiver, and moving him around the field is something the Jaguars hope they can continue throughout camp and into the season. “It is fun. This is the time to do that stuff, to really experiment on both sides of the ball and just kind of see what the guys can do, and he’s one of those guys,” Pederson stated when asked about Etienne’s ability to play at multiple spots on the field.
Part of the thought process with moving Etienne around is the ability to create mismatches for the opposing defense. Being able to have a couple of different players run around at different spots creates some confusion and allows for the offense to succeed. A player of Etienne’s caliber, given his size, speed and agility, makes sense to utilize in that capacity.
For Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, getting Etienne back is significant. The two have had plenty of success in the past, playing together for three years at Clemson. Now, Lawrence might finally have the opportunity to repeat the success they had, just in the NFL.
“It feels good,” Lawrence said of getting Etienne back lining up with him “Obviously last year, [we] didn’t get to do much of that besides the first two preseason games, so it’s really nice having him back there. Just like I’ve said about some other guys, he just adds another element to our offense.”
Lawrence echoed the sentiments shared by Pederson; having different types of players giving opposing defenses a different look on a down-by-down basis allows the offense to take advantage of mismatches and confusion. Though it’s early, there’s some progress and Etienne returning to what he once was is something important to keep an eye on.