WATFORD, United Kingdom – New venue, same storylines.
One Jaguars storyline this week is breaking a four-game losing streak, but just as prominent leading to their annual London home game is running back Travis Etienne Jr.
He's the clear starter, even more so following this week's trade of James Robinson – and he was a major topic when Head Coach Doug Pederson, wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. and quarterback Trevor Lawrence addressed United Kingdom media on Friday in advance of Sunday's game.
"You're kind of seeing him get more and more comfortable every week, and starting to make more and plays," Lawrence said as the Jaguars (2-5) prepared to play the Denver Broncos (2-5) at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
"We're excited to have him back there."
Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, missed his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury. He took over the starting position two games ago from Robinson, who led the Jaguars in rushing the past two seasons and who on Wednesday was traded to the New York Jets.
If the trade means increased work for Etienne, Pederson's fine with that.
"I believe he can definitely get more carries, more touches," Pederson said. "But we've got a lot of faith and belief in [reserve running back] JaMycal [Hasty] and 2022 fifth-round draft selection] Snoop [Conner]. That's why we drafted Snoop and got him in here. It's a good opportunity for him.
"We know Travis is going to get the bulk of the work. At the same time, those other two have to be ready to go."
Etienne has rushed for 415 yards and a touchdown on 68 carries this season, including 271 yards on 34 carries in the last three games. He had more than 100 total yards each of the last three weeks, including his first 100-yard rushing game – 114 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries – in a loss to the New York Giants this past Sunday.
"Early on, I think he was trying to get his feet wet," said Lawrence, who played three seasons with Etienne at Clemson University. "He was still trying to get into the flow of the game. He obviously missed a whole season and was kind of used to full-speed, full-contact; the speed of the game is a lot different than college.
"I think it took him a second to get comfortable, but you see the last few weeks he has been playing great. You see flashes, for sure. If he gets a little bit of space, he can make a huge play out of it.
"He gets better and better every week."
Pederson said while he was aware of Etienne's explosiveness and big-play potential before this season, what has impressed him about Etienne this season has been "the way he continues to develop and grow every single week."
"He doesn't make the same mistake twice," Pederson said. "That's the growth mentality he has. He's a hard worker. He works hard in practice. He wants to get better, wants to learn. He studies. Those are all things that stand out to me."
- Wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew was listed as questionable on the Jaguars' final injury report of the week Friday, having practiced limited all three days this week after missing Sunday's home loss to the Giants with a knee injury. "We're going to try to push him one more day tomorrow to see where he's at," Pederson said.
- Pederson on playing at Wembley Stadium: "If you're an NFL fan this is a great venue and a great game to be a part of. It means a lot to [Jaguars Owner Shad Khan], it means a lot to the organization, and it means a lot to our players to come over here and have such a great fan base here that supports the Jaguars. We look forward to it. It should be a great crowd Sunday and it's something our players feed off of."
- Jones on Sunday’s matchup of the Jaguars' seventh-ranked offense versus the Broncos' second-ranked defense: "We just need to play our game. They have a good defense. They have an aggressive defense. They play the right way. We have a good offense, so we can't wait to play them."
From practice and fan meet and greets to spending time with JagTag Xtra Time athletes, see top photos from the Jaguars first day in London.
(October 28, 2022)