With a year under his belt and going into his third year in the league, Travis Etienne feels like he is ready to take the next step.
His rookie year was a wash, having to sit out the entire season due to a Lisfranc injury in his foot. But after rushing for over 1,100 yards in his first full season, Etienne has been able to get an offseason under his belt and perfect his game that saw him taken with the 25th pick in 2021.
“This offseason was great for me personally because I was able to work on my game,” Etienne told reporters after Friday’s practice. “I was able to work out with the guys and be able to be ready for the season.”
Etienne was ninth in the league in rushing, while also snagging over 300 yards receiving last year. He impressed in his first healthy campaign and thinks he is even further ahead of schedule heading into his second healthy season.
“It is night and day,” Etienne said. “Having that season behind me propels me forward. You are going to see levels of growth from me this year.”
Etienne pointed to being able to anticipate which hole he wants to hit as the aspect of his game that he really honed in on fixing this summer. He said that he now has better pad level, and instead of showing defenders where he is going based on his pads, he is now more square which in turn keeps defenders guessing.
“My main focus was my tracks, just me starting getting the ball,” Etienne said. “My shoulders being square with the offensive lineman, things like that. That way, I am giving myself three ways to go.”
Understandably, Etienne was a bit tentative between coming back from injury and the start of last season. Through the productive season he had, Etienne said he has regained his confidence.
“My first year was all about gaining my confidence back, and once you get that, you get back to yourself again,” Etienne said.
With a clear No. 1 back in Etienne and a change of pace back in JaMycal Hasty, the Jaguars still did make moves in the offseason and the draft to supplement their running back room.
The team signed former Cleveland Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson and drafted former Auburn Tiger Tank Bigsby in the third round. Etienne, Johnson, Bigsby, Hasty, and Snoop Connor make up the Jaguars’ running back room.
When asked how the running back room feels, with five guys competing for roster spots, Etienne said there is no animosity and each guy helps one another.
“I feel like everybody is here for one reason and that is to win football games,” Etienne said. “I feel like that is going to go a long way. There is no jealousy in the room. We are all rooting for each other to get better.”
One guy that Etienne has been impressed by is Bigsby, who was the 2020 SEC Freshman of the Year.
“I have seen a lot out of Tank,” Etienne said. “I love his grind, I love his grit. I feel like he is very hungry. Just his willingness to come in every day and learn, I love that about him and that is why you are going to see a lot of growth from him early.”
At this time last year, no one outside of the Jaguars’ locker room thought the team could accomplish all that they did.
After an AFC South title win and a successful playoff run, there are expectations for the Jaguars to repeat.
Etienne said that with a multi-headed running back room, and the addition of another star wide receiver, the Jaguars are ready to take the 2023 season by storm.
“Now, we have that foundation,” Etienne said. “We know what we can be. And we added Calvin Ridley. I feel like that is an automatic reason that we are going to start faster. I am very excited for this year to see where we are going to go.”