Can Jaguars RB Travis Etienne win Comeback Player of the Year in 2022?

Carlos Sanchez
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Jacksonville Jaguars used the 25th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on running back Travis Etienne because they thought he could give their offense a spark. However, he suffered a Lisfranc injury in the preseason and missed his entire rookie campaign. Now healthy, he’s had an outstanding training camp, which potentially gives him a shot at winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2022, at least according to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus.

Monson recently drew up a list of bold predictions for each AFC South and he thinks Etienne could become the comeback player of the year. He argues that his “elite explosiveness and big-play ability“, along with his pass-catching skills should help him.

"The Urban Meyer tenure in Jacksonville was disastrous, and that colors everything that he left behind. But Travis Etienne is a talented player who has a lot to offer the team. He missed his entire rookie season with an injury, but Etienne has elite explosiveness and big-play ability, as well as some cross-training at wide receiver that will help. Etienne could easily become a focal point of this offense and make enough big plays to put himself at the front of the Comeback Player of the Year running."

Etienne has been the most impressive offensive player in Jaguars’ training camp, according to John Shipley of Jaguar Report. Similarly, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports believes the running back is one of several players returning from the injury that will have a big year in 2022.

One of the reasons Jacksonville drafted Etienne was his big play ability. Back in college, he displayed the ability to pick up yards in chunks, logging 55 plays of 20 yards or more. Even though he will have a harder time gaining yards in the NFL, he should be able to give the Jags’ offense a boost.

Winning Comeback Player may be feasible for Jaguars RB Travis Etienne

So it’s been established that Etienne’s injury is behind him and he’s shined in training camp but can he win the Comeback Player of the Year or not? Barring serious injury it’s possible but many things would have to go his way.

For starters, James Robinson is recovering from a torn Achilles he sustained last year but he’s set to make a return early in the 2022 season, so he and Etienne will likely split carries. It’s uncertain, what kind of workload they’re going to have but that’s something the coaching staff won’t probably be able to figure out until Robinson returns.

But let’s say Etienne will still most of the carries in the Jags’ backfield, there will be other players vying for the award, and many of them are running backs. Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry top the list and Saquon Barkley make a push. Wide receiver Michael Thomas could also have a legitimate chance if he’s fully healthy, so Etienne would have to outplay all of them while splitting carries with Robinson. In fact, Robinson himself may end up becoming a viable candidate for Comeback Player.

All things considered, it’s easy to see why Monson believes Etienne has a chance to be the league’s comeback player of the year. It won’t definitely be a walk in the park but he has a shot nonetheless.

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