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2024 OTAs: The Best Is Ahead for Jaguars RB Travis Etienne Jr. 

0522 ETN OTA Article

JACKSONVILLE – He's enthusiastic about the future, and with reason.

Travis Etienne Jr. is entering his fourth NFL season. With that season a few months away, the Jaguars' starting running back see the immediate future with optimism.

He's in his NFL prime, and he believes he's still improving.

"I feel like the ceiling for me, I still haven't reached it," he said.

Etienne, a 1,000-yard rusher the past two seasons, spoke Monday afternoon following the first practice of Jaguars 2024 Organized Team Activities at the Miller Electric Center. Hours earlier, Head Coach Doug Pederson discussed Etienne as "taking another step."

"I think there's more out there that he can get yard wise," Pederson said.

Etienne, who after missing his 2021 rookie season with a Lisfranc injury has emerged as one of the NFL's most versatile and productive running backs, said his focus as OTAs open remains on taking the step to which Pederson referred.

Toward that end, he said he returned this offseason somewhat to workouts he used while playing collegiately at Clemson.

"I want to get better each and every year," he said. "Each year, I have to find something to get better at. I can't attack the same as last year because I want different results. I want to continue to get bigger, faster, stronger. I'm just focusing on muscle mass, just to try to get bigger so that throughout the season I'm able to withstand all those hits and all those blows.

"I know what it takes to be in the league now, to play a full 17 games, so I know what to attack during the offseason now."

Jaguars coaches talked before the 2023 season about then-rookie Tank Bigsby emerging to ease Etienne's workload, something Pederson discussed again Monday.

"It's hard to put necessarily a rep count on it, but you do want to keep him as healthy as you can throughout the season," Pederson said of Etienne. "We've talked about this as a staff and myself, making sure Tank gets opportunities to get out there and take some of the pounding off of Travis."

Jacksonville, Fla. — Jaguars offense during OTAs at the Miller Electric Center on May 20, 2024.

Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, started the final regular-season games in 2022 and rushed for 1,125 yards and five touchdowns on 220 carries. He started all 17 games in 2023, rushing for 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns on 267 carries.

Etienne entering the 2024 season focused on improving his decision-making and block-following as a runner. It's an area Pederson discussed Monday and one Etienne said continues to be a focus.

"I've always had great vision," Etienne said. "I feel like for me, it's more about just being more disciplined, not trying to get a touchdown every time I touch the ball. I feel like college kind of ruined me with that, just being able to get the ball and just score touchdowns every play."

Etienne said his focus now is "getting back and understanding the flow of the game, understanding the whole totality, understanding the bigger picture."

"If it's second and 1," he said, "no need for me to shoot for the stars. Just hit that first down, and I've got a whole another set of downs."

He added, "It's about staying above the chains, stopping the negative. Don't make a negative play. Just get back to the line of scrimmage."

"That's going to continue to get me better because I feel like the big play is going to come naturally, just me being me," he said. "I just have to continue to keep being an every-down back, keep being a guy who can just go out there and get four yards consistently."

Etienne, too, said he believes he can continue improving as a receiver. He caught 35 receptions for 316 yards in 2022 with 58 receptions for 476 yards and a touchdown in 2023.

"I say you have to throw me the ball," he said. "I feel like I'm a great receiver. I feel like my hands are great. I just feel like they just have to throw me the ball, and then we won't even have any discussion."

It was noted to Etienne he proved he could catch the deep pass last season with a 56-yard touchdown in a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers that marked his longest career reception.

"That's what I'm saying," he said with a smile.

And whether it's as a runner or passer, he said what he has done in two seasons isn't close to what he wants moving forward.

"I continue to get better each and every year, each and every rep, each and every day, honestly," Etienne said. "As long as I continue to just have that that mentality to get better each and every day, feel like the sky's the limit."

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