JACKSONVILLE – Hope and belief remain strong.
And as the Jaguars prepare for a road game against an improving opponent, hope remains strong that their starting running back will be available for that game.
Running back Travis Etienne Jr., the Jaguars' leading rusher, practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday with a foot injury sustained this past weekend. Etienne and Head Coach Doug Pederson remained positive about his chances of playing Sunday.
"There's no doubt I'll be ready," Etienne said Wednesday as the Jaguars (4-7) prepared to play the Detroit Lions (4-7) at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., Sunday at 1 p.m. "I've just got to continue to rehab so I'll be ready for the game Sunday."
Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, has rushed for 728 yards and four touchdowns on 133 carries this season after missing his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury. He rushed twice for three yards in the Jaguars' victory over the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday before sustaining what Pederson on Monday said was a sprain in the same foot.
Pederson on Wednesday said he feels good about Etienne's status for Sunday.
"It's going to be day to day," Pederson said. "We want to make sure he's 100 percent before we stick him out there."
Pederson said Jaguars running backs coach Bernie Parmalee will "spend a little extra time" in practice with running back Darrell Henderson Jr. this week. Henderson, acquired off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams last week, did not play against Baltimore with reserve running back JaMycal Hasty rushing for 28 yards on 12 carries in the game and catching five passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Rookie Snoop Conner rushed for 11 yards on three carries against Baltimore.
"He's a veteran guy; he has played," Pederson said of Henderson, who has rushed for 1,742 yards and 13 touchdowns while starting 28 of 50 NFL games played in four NFL seasons. "It's just a matter of understanding a little terminology.
"We won't throw the whole [offense] at him. We'll give him a series of plays he's comfortable with."
The Jaguars, after a five-game losing streak in which all losses came by a score or less, have won two of the last three games. They are three games behind the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans (7-4) with two games remaining against the Titans.
"The team's feeling good," Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor said. "The vibe's amazing. We're trying to go on a run. We're trying to go week to week and get our job done. Everybody's been playing complementary football and everybody's buying into the system.
"We're just trying to go 1-0 this week."
Said Pederson, "Anything's possible. I've been around this league a long time; anything's possible. We understand it's a one-game season and the importance of this game. If you look at our schedule, we've got some really good opponents down the stretch and three in our own division.
"I love the confidence the guys have. We understand it's a one-game season, one-game mentality. Anything's possible."
- Pederson: "These guys, nothing really bothers them. They've stayed the course through the hard times this season, some of the tough losses we've had. They don't seem to get too high or too low. Obviously they're excited because of the win Sunday and that's something we can build on. The leadership of the team has been really good that way. When you get this late in the season, there's not a lot I can do to motivate the guys. We're 13 weeks in. It's a matter of them taking it upon themselves. You lean on the leadership that way."
- Etienne was one of four players on the Wednesday injury report. The others: Wide receiver Zay Jones (chest), safety Andrew Cisco (shoulder) and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (illness).