JACKSONVILLE – Travis Etienne Jr.understands the whole "workload" topic.
But while Jaguars observers, fans and even coaches these days are discussing managing his carries and catches, Etienne is far less concerned.
"I'm at the point where I wanted to be all my life. Why would I try to hold myself back now?" Etienne said.
Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2021 NFL Draft now in his second season starting, joined senior writer John Oehser for this week's Week 10 O-Zone Podcast. He discussed multiple topics, including how missing his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury gave him perspective he might have lacked otherwise.
"This was what I always wanted, just knowing that this is the last step [in his football career] – and understanding that it can be taken away from you," he said. "Now I understand I have to just be grateful for every opportunity I have on that field because at the end of the day, an injury can happen. I've been through that."
Etienne, too, discussed how he has improved from a 1,000-yard 2022 season to a 2023 season in which he is sixth in the NFL in rushing – fourth among backs on teams that haven't had a bye. Etienne said the key was slight changes approaching the line of scrimmage and body positioning early in plays.
"For me it was like the smallest thing," he said. "It was just my steps, like my initial step. Instead of having my shoulders square, my shoulders would be turned. So it was forcing me not to be able to see the whole field.
"Now, it's easier to see the whole field. I can see the A Gap, the B Gap, the C Gap. I can see the cut back, I can see everything. It was just getting the shoulder square and now the defender doesn't have a tip on where I'm going to go either way."
Etienne rushed for 1,125 yards and five touchdowns in 2022 season, his first NFL season playing. His 583 yards and seven rushing touchdowns through eight games have him on pace for 1,238 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns this season.
"I've gotten much better this year of being a more vertical runner," Etienne said. "In college, I'm looking for that home run every time to where now I understand the first down is important. I understand that the four yards are very important. I feel like I struggled with that for a long time.
"I'm really the same guy I've been. I feel like I just have a better understanding of the scheme. I have a better understanding of the NFL, understanding that I'm not going to beat every guy to the sideline.
"You can watch my high school clips, my college clips, where just I could beat anybody. Now, it's about leverage and understanding that everyone's fast."
Listen to the entire O-Zone Podcast with Etienne below. Click HERE to view more episodes of the O-Zone Podcast.