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Jaguars Training Camp:  Etienne Embracing Physicality After Lengthy Absence

Etienne sat out all of the 2021-2022 season due to injury and is ready to prove why he was a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
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It’s been a long road to recovery for running back Travis Etienne. After losing all of last season to a lisfranc injury, Etienne was quickly reminded of how much he missed the game when he stepped out on the field for training camp.

“It feels great to be back out there,” Etienne said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played football. It reminded me quickly that it’s a physical game. That’s why we play; that’s why we love it.”

It is common to see players coming off a major injury to be initially conservative when it comes to getting hit. Instead of following this notion, Etienne is embracing the physical style and tackling that is necessary to get the body ready for game action, especially as the Jaguars ramp up the physicality in camp. 

“I need that,” Etienne said. “I haven’t played in so long. I want to get tackled. I need to get tackled just to get my body back acclimated with that. I’ve just been at home, working out, chilling on the couch, stuff like that, so to come out here and get some bumps and bruises. I miss that contact. It may sound crazy, but I miss kind of being in those car crashes.”

Etienne has already been on the receiving end of a brutal hit during team drills when second-year safety Andre Cisco nailed him on the blindside during a rushing attempt. Despite seeing Cisco coming into the play, Etienne still kept to the script and didn’t shy away.

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“I saw Cisco,” Etienne said. “I could’ve come with a little more of a boom, but I just needed that contact, see what it felt like. I think that was the first play, so I was looking for contact, and I got on the outside edge, got out real quick, and just trying to get my body acclimated so that way I wasn’t waiting on that second play to get hit, just get it out of the way.

Being adept at taking hits is a must as an NFL running back, but taking too many can be a detriment to the body. For Etienne, holding back is a tough task having not been on the field for a long period of time, but he realizes that he must find a balance despite how difficult it may be.

“It is hard for me to balance,” Etienne said. “For me to start feeling myself, I have to get those reps. These are my first live reps in forever, and I really wasn’t myself. I had some great runs, but I wasn’t as physical as I am and as I need to be. I feel like for me, it’s just repetition, getting those reps over and over again. In a game I’m going to be down, I’m going to be hurt, I’m going to be fatigued, and I have to still get those reps, and I feel like when it gets to that point, it’s all mental. We’re all hurting. We’re all out there tired. So it’s just who can keep pushing through the mind. Football is a mind game at first. We’re professionals. You have to be at your best when you’re hurting, so that’s what I feel like I’m trying to work towards and keep getting better at.”

It is evident this offseason that Etienne has the mindset to bounce back and succeed in his first true NFL season. Time is winding down until Etienne makes his debut in a Jaguars uniform, and if he gets his way that may be on Friday night against the Browns.

“Yes sir,” Etienne said when asked if he wants to play on Friday. 

“I feel like I haven’t played in forever. Any chance I get to showcase my skill, I’m ready. Hell yeah, I want to play.”