Travis Etienne had the kind of de facto rookie year that should make you very encouraged if you’re invested in his career. The Jacksonville Jaguars running back posted 1,125 rushing yards with five touchdowns on the ground and 5.1 yards per rush, plus 316 receiving yards after missing his entire rookie season due to a foot injury.
Thursday saw even more reason for excitement, via some comments from Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson.
Speaking with reporters after practice, Pederson raved about Etienne’s development as a downhill runner and suggested that he could run for as many as 1,700 yards this season:
“It’s one of the things that when we looked at his game this offseason back in February and March before the players came back, one of the things that we noticed was him attacking the hole downhill, shoulders square, attack the line of scrimmage, find that crease where a lot of times you’ll see him try to bounce. So we were able to show him and really emphasize shoulders square, anticipating where the hole could be and just trusting that. He’s done an outstanding job, he’s bought into that, he sees it, we’ve been able to show it to him. He’s working on that in training camp right now.
“We always talk about speed through the hole, not to the hole, and he’s really embraced that this training camp. That, to me, is the next step for him. That 11, 12, 13 — now the yards start creeping up and maybe he’s pushing 1,600, 1,700 yards as a rusher.”
Give that last year’s rushing champion was Josh Jacobs with 1,653 yards, those are mighty high expectations.
Etienne enters this season with a chance to be the Jaguars’ bell cow in the backfield — his current competition for snaps consists of 2023 third-round draft pick Tank Bigsby and veterans JaMycal Hasty and D’Ernest Johnson. With Trevor Lawrence entering Year 3, the pressure will be on for the former Clemson pair to take the Jaguars into elite territory on offense.