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Offseason 2021: Versatility key for Shenault, Etienne

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) runs away from the tackle of Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Harold Landry III (58) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE – The more you can do, the better.

That may not be the mantra for every Jaguars player in 2021, but versatility without question will matter for multiple players offensively.

Running back Travis Etienne absolutely is among those players.

So is wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.

"You need guys who can adapt, guys you can put in different positions," Darrell Bevell said during the Jaguars' recent 2021 Minicamp presented by Baptist Health, which marked the end of the '21 offseason and which concluded at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex recently.

Bevell, entering his first season as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, was discussing the value of Etienne's versatility when he said the above quote last week. He quickly included Shenault in the answer – and that's fitting considering the likely roles of the two players.

Both players are expected to play a role in the "H-Back" position, a "hybrid" role that that combines traits of running backs and wide receivers – and Bevell also included veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. as a player who could provide offensive versatility.

"It's important for all those guys to learn and handle as much as they can so that we have the opportunity to be flexible with them and move in and out of personnel groups, concept routes, those kinds of things, to help keep the defenses on their toes," Bevell said.

Etienne, who played running back at Clemson University before the Jaguars selected him No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, finished his career as the all-time leader in Atlantic Coast Conference history in rushing yards and career touchdowns. 

Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer has said Etienne was drafted for his big-play ability and to add an explosive element to an offense that lacked those elements last season – and has said multiple times since the draft that the Jaguars will attempt to get Etienne in situations that he can win one-on-one matchups with defenders.

"I saw flashes of what I remember seeing in college, here in the last week and a half," Meyer said of Etienne during '21 minicamp. "The Jaguars, when you look at it statistically … big plays were very hard to find last year. And this guy has big play written all over him. He's a space player. Ideally, we're going to be one of those multiple offenses that has spread elements as well as the wide wire, the two tights.

"That's hard to defend if you can do both. And he's a space player and you could see that the last few practices."

Shenault, entering his second NFL season, caught 58 passes for 600 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie – and also rushed 18 times for 91 yards – after rushing for seven touchdowns and having 10 touchdown receptions at the University of Colorado.

"I really like what I see from Laviska," Bevell said. "He's a big, strong, physical player and the guy that really needs the ball in his hands. So, that's the first thing that you've got to figure out, 'How do we give it to him? And what does it look like?'

"There [are] easy, simple ways that you can kind of hand it to him and get it to him, but there's also routes and things. So, that's where I wanted to progress, too, and see what he was able to do as a wide receiver and I really like what I see."


A major topic during '21 minicamp was the competition at kicker between veterans Josh Lambo and Aldrick Rosas. Meyer made clear it indeed was a competition on the first day of minicamp, and special teams coordinator Nick Sorensen reiterated the point in his meeting with the media following Minicamp Day 2. "We've got two guys, they're both very good kickers and they're competing to win the job," Sorensen said. "That's what we're doing every day and they've both been great." Lambo, a second-team All-Pro selection in 2019, made of 76 of 80 field goals since joining the Jaguars in 2017 before missing the last 11 games of last season with a hip injury. Rosas, a second-team All-Pro selection in 2018 with the New York Giants, has made 70 of 86 career field goals and made eight of 11 in six games for the Jaguars last season. "They're both talented," Sorensen said. "Rosas, he's had success in the past and he's showing that he has the ability. He's showing that and this is a competition. That's what it is, they're competing every day, they've both done very well and they're both very talented. So, that competition will continue."

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