JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars returned to practice with a pop.
A lot of pop, actually. And a lot of hitting.
Three days after a loss in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, the Jaguars on Sunday held Day 9 of 2022 Training Camp at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville Knight Sports Campus. It was a full-padded, intense workout – a day that featured by far the hardest hitting of '22 camp to date.
"That's why we play; that's why we love it," second-year running back Travis Etienne Jr. said.
For Etienne, who missed his 2021 rookie season with a Lisfranc injury, it was his most intense hitting since his 2020 senior season at Clemson University.
"It felt great to be back out there," said Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. "I got reminded quickly it's a physical game."
Etienne took several hard hits Sunday, saying with a smile afterward: "I see why I fell in love with the game. I love that adrenaline. I love being hit. I love being physical. Quickly, I was reminded it's a physical game. I've just got to get back to myself. I'm grateful that I'm out here.
"I need that. I haven't played in so long. I want to get tackled. I need to get tackled. It gets my body back acclimated with that. I missed that contact. I miss being in those car crashes."
The Jaguars will play host to the Cleveland Browns in a Preseason Week 1 game at TIAA Bank Field Friday. Etienne, among multiple offensive and defensive starters held out of a 27-11 loss to the Raiders Thursday, was asked if he wanted to play against the Browns.
"I feel like I haven't played in forever," he said. "I feel like anytime I get the chance to showcase my skills, I'm always ready. Hell yeah, I want to play."
The Jaguars worked for nearly two hours Sunday in temperatures that reached 88 degrees and felt like 97. The practice featured team blitz, team run and goal-line periods – with the periods featuring some of the most intense practice hitting in recent Jaguars memory.
The Jaguars are practicing on the Episcopal sports campus while construction continues on their sports performance facility adjacent to TIAA Bank Field. That facility is projected to be complete by 2023 training camp.
"Today was a vital day for us," Etienne said. "To be able to have those live reps with each other … we're definitely going to jell stronger. That's going to help us moving forward."
Here's a look at Sunday's practice:
PLAY OF THE DAY
- Sunday's play of the day must be one by safety Andre Cisco – and really, multiple plays by Cisco qualified. The second-year safety took advantage of the first live, tackle-to-the-ground practice of the Head Coach Doug Pederson era during 11-on-11 drills when Etienne caught a swing pass with a vision of the end zone. Cisco ran from deep in coverage to stop Etienne yards short of the first down with one of the loudest training-camp hits in recent Jaguars memory. The defense went insane for Cisco, who also forced a fumble near the goal line on a carry by running back Ryquell Armstead. "I saw Cisco," Etienne said of the Cisco hit. "I could have came with a little more of a boom. I need that contact I think that was the first play, I was looking for contact and I got it. I was trying to my body acclimated so I wasn't waiting for the second play to get hit. I got it out of the way.
- Etienne and Agnew both played extensively in team drills, taking the brunt of the live tackling and heavy contact. Neither showed signs of hesitation when a hit came their way … a great sign they are healed from their season ending injuries last year (Etienne, Lisfranc; Agnew, hip) and ready to get back to the physicality of football. …
- Left tackle Cam Robinson was dominant in offensive-line versus defensive-line drills Sunday. He won every single rep he took, mostly against outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker. You could see that Josh Allen was getting frustrated he could not shake Robinson. Robinson has been played at a high level throughout training camp. …
- Tight end Evan Engram caught a touchdown in red-zone drills with a nice catch on a pass from quarterback Trevor Lawrence ball in the corner of the end zone over the head of rookie linebacker Chad Muma. The official ruled only foot in, but it looked like two. There were disagreements over the call standing. …
- Right tackle Jawaan Taylor worked in individual drills Sunday after being out with a hamstring injury, and Agnew also worked extensively after being out/to the side with a hip injury sustained late last season. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard (groin) returned to team work, and defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi returned to individual drills. Running back James Robinson (Achilles), cornerback Darious Williams (shoulder) and linebacker Devin Lloyd (hamstring) continued working mostly to the side. Pederson said Lloyd remains day to day. "He's doing well, though," Pederson said.