Jaguars RB Travis Etienne expected to have bigger impact in 2023

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports /

Running back Travis Etienne was a highly productive player for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022 but head coach Doug Pederson believes he can be even better next season.

Pederson spoke to the media at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine and said that there are many things he likes about Etienne’s game. He then added that he expects the running back to have an even bigger impact on offense in Year 2.

“The biggest thing for me, I love his toughness, his physicality”, Pederson said. “He’s not a big guy but he’s very physical when he runs. He can be elusive and got good speed. And he’s just gonna get better as a runner”.

“When he gets a chance to go back and watch what he did last year in our system, there’s going to be times where he’s going to go, ‘I should’ve hit it here’. That’s the growth mentality that he’ll have. Just excited for him. Getting back in our system again, second year, to watch the growth in him. Really, how he bounced back from that injury in Year 1 in the foot to be a really good impact player for us on offense” Pederson.

Etienne missed his rookie season after suffering a Lisfranc injury in the preseason. He then got off to a slow start last season but progressively got a bigger workload and became the Jaguars’ lead back by midseason. The former Clemson Tiger finished the year with 1,125 yards with five touchdowns on 220 carries. He was so valuable that he was one of three Jaguars that appeared on ESPN’s list of most valuable players in the NFL in 2022.

Jaguars RB Travis Etienne should be even better in Year 3

Coming back from a Lisfranc injury and having to compete for a feature role later is no easy task but that’s precisely what Etienne did last season. The fact that he hadn’t played a single down in a regular season game in the NFL game makes it even more impressive.

Coming off a playoff appearance and their first AFC South title since 2017, expectations are high for the Jags next season. On the bright side, they’re well-equipped to seize the division for the second straight year and get over the hump in the postseason.

Most of the Jags’ core from last season will return in 2023 and they should be even better given that it will be their second year in the system, as Pederson noted. Etienne won’t have to compete for a job and will instead start the season as the starter. Similarly, Trevor Lawrence should keep improving after making a huge leap last year.

While drafting a running back in the first round isn’t always a good idea, Etienne showed last season the Jaguars made the right choice and it could look even better if he improves the way he’s expected in 2023.

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