Jags’ Etienne optimistic, says fodder on the trail

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Missing his entire rookie season due to a foot injury was tough for Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr., but the 25th overall pick in 2021 managed to find a bit of silver.

At least he was not so completely immersed in Urban Meyer’s disastrous 11-month term – which ended shortly before noon. 1 on December 16 – as his teammates were.

“Just when you see the results, you’re definitely thinking, ‘Puha, if there was a year to miss, then I missed an amazing one,'” he said.

Aside from jokes, Etienne is happy to be back on track for the start of the Jaguars’ volunteer offseason conditioning program under new head coach Doug Pederson. He said he is still limited in some of his weight-space work, but does “most of the things” in the form of field work and is 85-90% recovered from the Lisfranc injury to his left foot that he sustained during a preseason match last August. He expects to be fully cleared by the training camp.

Etienne said the only time the injury still bothers him is after a long training session. Then it’s a little sore.

“It’s actually crazy because I talked to my mom about this the other day,” Etienne said. “If I did not know I had a screw in my foot, I could not see it. I feel it is a testament to where I am in my transition and how I heal.

“The screw is there. I think I want to take it out. I could leave it there forever. I know most guys say leave it there, it never bothers them, but I just do not want to be 40 years old with a screw in my foot, really. “

Etienne draws attention to the injury now, but he did not handle things so well in the days and months after the surgery. The pain was quite intense for the first 48 hours and he could not put weight on his foot for six weeks, which made him homely and a little depressed.

It was only when he was able to get back to the Jaguars’ facility to begin rehab that he began to get better.

“I was not aware of it at the time, but I was a bit in a depressed state, just not able to do the things I love to do,” Etienne said. “It was my foot so I could not do anything. So it was just really weird and I really did not realize how much it took a toll on me, but having my mother there, she helped me in a way. “staying in harmony with myself and not letting myself lose myself. When I was able to get back to the building for the guys, it really helped me a lot, just to see them every day and just live through them.”

It’s still too early to know how the Jaguars plan to use Etienne this season. Meyer envisioned a Percy Harvin-like role for Etienne as a rookie, similar to the way the San Francisco 49ers use Deebo Samuel. Etienne said he would be fine with that, but he may have to be the Jaguars’ feature running back early in the season if James Robinson is not fully recovered from the Achilles injury he sustained last December.

No matter how the Jaguars use him, they need him to produce the kind of great plays he made on Clemson. The Jaguars had 31 big games (runs of 20 or more yards and receptions of 30 or more yards) the last two seasons, which were the last in the NFL.

Etienne was one of the most explosive players in the country during his four seasons at Clemson. He led all players in the NCAA with 55 runs on 20 or more yards from 2017 to ’20. On the big games, he scored 21 touchdowns and rushed 2,053 yards, an average of 37.3 yards per game. rush. Etienne also had six receptions on 30 or more yards, giving him 61 explosive plays.

“I heard little bits and pieces from my running back coach [on how he may be used in the offense], “said Etienne.” But I’m sure they’re planning to get the ball in my hands. I feel like I’m a special player with the ball in my hands. “

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