Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne didn't get a chance to hit the field as a rookie, but he is confident his time will come the next time the Jaguars lace their cleats.
“I definitely feel like as of now I’ll be ready for training camp. I’m ready to go," Etienne said on Monday in his first press conference since suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 2 of the preseason.
Selected with the No. 25 overall pick in last year's NFL Draft, the Jaguars had significantly high hopes for Etienne and the explosiveness he would potentially bring o the offense.
After a record-breaking career at Clemson in which Etienne proved to be a natural fit next to quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who the Jaguars selected No. 1 overall, Etienne was added to the Jaguars' offense with hopes of him quickly complimenting James Robinson and adding a sense of normalcy for Lawrence.
Etienne impressed throughout training camp with his explosiveness and his versatility as a pass-catcher, with the Jaguars even experimenting with Etienne at wide receiver at times during the offseason and training camp.
His rookie year was cut short before it could ever began, though, with Etienne sustaining a season-ending Linsfranc injury against the New Orlean Saints on a non-contact play. Etienne would have surgery and then spend his rookie season rehabbing instead of taking the field next to Lawrence, Robinson and the rest of the Jaguars' offense.
“It actually was the hardest. I think being in the meetings every day, it helped me in a way, helped me in a sense because I felt like I was a part of it. I feel like I was a part of everything," Etienne said. "I was like a little kid going to the birthday, but I just couldn’t have any birthday cake. That’s the best way I can put it. That’s how this year’s been for me. So next year, I’m just looking forward to just indulging in all the cake that I can.”
Now, Etienne's focus is fully on rehabbing and being prepared for the 2022 season. Considering Robinson suffered his own season-ending injury with a torn achilies in Week 16, Etienne's recovery has become that much more important for the future of the Jaguars' offense.
Etienne said Monday that his next goal is to get back into weightlifting and full-speed running, two milestones he believes he is close to reaching.
The next milestone for me is to get back doing weightlifting, Olympic weightlifting, like squats and stuff like that. I haven’t really been squatting because it is an Lisfranc injury, and it was in the bottom of the foot," Etienne said.
"The next step is getting back to doing those squats, getting my legs back right and get back to full-speed running. Hopefully I look forward to being at training camp and just being back to myself.”
2021 was a tough year for the Jaguars on virtually every front, and Etienne's injury before the season even began was the first of what would be many blows. And while the rest of the Jaguars' roster and rookie class took their lumps on the field, Etienne was watching from afar, helpless when it came to helping the Jaguars turn their fortunes around.
Now, Etienne will turn his eyes toward 2022 as he and the Jaguars each focus on what he can add to the offense and just how much he can help Lawrence.
“First off, I want to say, I feel like I’m very grateful. I feel like this experience really has helped me and I feel like I’m grateful that it happened. I was very involved, I just wasn’t there on game day, but I was in the meetings all the time. I still learned the playbook, still doing all of those things, just trying to build that mindset as if I was a pro," Etienne said.
"Well, I am a pro, but just build that mindset as if I was still playing so that way next year, I don’t have to create those habits. Those habits are already instilled in me. To say it was a circus, I wouldn’t say it was that. I feel like I’m very grateful that I had this experience. God put us here for a reason and I feel like we’re definitely going to grow from this, learn from this, and move forward. We just can’t wait.”