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Tank Bigsby impresses Jaguars’ players, coaches

The rookie running back has been making waves so far this offseason

Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Tank Bigsby has one simple goal for his first year with the Jaguars.

“Doing whatever I can do to help the Jags win,” Bigsby told the Jaguars’ John Oehser.

A third-round selection out of Auburn in the most recent Draft, Bigsby was acquired as someone who could immediately help the running back room.

While incumbent starter Travis Etienne can certainly do things fine on his own, adding the former 2020 SEC Freshman of the Year cannot hurt.

In three years at Auburn, Bigsby totaled more than 2,900 combined yards rushing over three seasons. He also added 25 touchdowns on the ground.

When asked about his thoughts on his rookie back, head coach Doug Pederson said he was impressed with Bigsby’s ability to absorb everything the team has thrown at him.

“Outside of speed, athleticism, all that … this kid is a sponge,” Pederson said on Saturday. “He’s really a smart, young running back. He understands the defense. One of the things, too, that has been impressive is how well he has taken the coaching, whether from (running backs coach) Bernie (Parmalee), myself, even (offensive line coach) Phil Rauscher.”

Pederson said that Bigsby is able to take what he is taught and build on that after every practice.

“He’s able to take that and apply it to what he’s doing,” Pederson said. “He’s just improving every day.”

Immediately following his selection, Jaguars’ fans were a bit confused and upset that the team would take a running back in the third round after Etienne rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first healthy season.

Someone who was not upset was Etienne himself.

“I’ve seen a lot out of Tank,” Etienne said last week. “I just love his grind. I love his grit. I feel like he’s very hungry. That’s what I love about him, just seeing his willingness to get better every day. He’s a rookie, he’s new in the scheme. I’ve been there, so I’m seeing where he’s going and just his willingness to come in every day and learn. I love that about him and that’s why you’re going to see a lot of growth from him early.”

Etienne also added that there is no jealousy in the running back room, which now consists of himself, Bigsby, D’Ernest Johnson, and JaMycal Hasty.

Upon the conclusion of Sunday’s practice, the team is now less than a week away from their first preseason game at the Dallas Cowboys.

While acknowledging he is still very green in his NFL career, Bigsby was rightfully excited about competing in his first NFL action.

“I always believe in putting your best foot forward and focusing on the task,” Bigsby said. “I’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve got the first preseason game coming up. I have to keep getting better every day to become the best I can be and reach my full potential. I’m where I expected to be. I have to keep getting better and know my assignments, be disciplined. Now, it’s moving fast and getting used to the pace of the NFL.”

One part of Bigsby’s game that will need to continue to grow is his ability as a receiver.

In his three years at Auburn, he only caught 62 balls for 448 yards in a mainly run-first system.

He can still be a dynamic receiving threat when given the chance, with Pederson admitting as much.

“They didn’t go to him a bunch (at Auburn), but he’s a real good pass catcher out of the backfield,” Pederson said.

Bigsby was coached well at his position in college, learning under 2005 NFL Rookie of the Year Cadillac Williams.

The back said Williams, who served as the team’s running backs coach and interim coach at Auburn, also noted Bigsby’s ability as a pass catcher.

“I’m so glad I can (do) that because I didn’t get to show that at Auburn,” Bigsby said. “Coach Cadillac used to tell me all the time, ‘Man, you run some of the best routes I ever saw. You catch the ball really good.’ I’m going to keep showing them that I’m more than just a downhill running back. I can catch the ball and do what I have to do.”

Parmalee also noted last week that the Jaguars may have a solid receiver in Bigsby.

“So when we got him it’s like, ‘Oh, you know, he does have pretty good hands,’” Parmalee said. “Sometimes you just don’t know until you get them and you got your hands on them and then you sit there say, ‘Oh, he actually can do that.’”

There is still plenty of time for Bigsby to grow and develop at the professional level.

But already, it seems that the team has a hidden weapon in No. 4.

“This is the type of back we wanted to bring to the table,” Parmalee said. “And he fits everything that we were looking for.”