Last offseason, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne had a dual mandate. He had to get himself ready to contribute to the Jaguars' offense, sure, but he also had to rehab from the Lisfranc injury that had ended his rookie season before it even started.
That's not the case for Etienne this year. Heading into the third season of his career, Etienne has been able to concentrate solely on the on-the-field aspect of his preparation.
"Last year was more about getting healthy and getting back," Etienne said, according to NFL.com. "This year, I didn't have to worry about my foot. It's great. So I'm able to work on football, all football."
Etienne began last season in a time share with James Robinson, but put his former backfield partner on ice within a few weeks and ended up playing 60% of Jacksonville's offensive snaps on the year. He totaled 1,125 yards and five touchdowns on 220 carries, adding 35 receptions for 316 additional yards as a pass-catcher. All in all, it was a very solid debut season.
The lone real issue was with his hands, as Etienne fumbled the ball five times and dropped three passes.
"All the great running backs put the ball on the ground sometimes, but it's on us to just keep getting better and better and be aware," he said. "And I feel like my teammates, they believe in me, so as long as I've got their belief, we're good. ... It allows me to go out there and play free, to go out there and make those big plays and continue to be special and not just live within my head. … It kind of goes to show that (coach Doug Pederson) believes in my skill set, and I'm going to go out there and be myself."
Still, the Jags obviously did not feel comfortable with Etienne as their lone high-level back, so they added Auburn's Tank Bigsby through the draft. And Etienne is just fine having to share the load.
"It keeps the wear and tear off of my body," Etienne said. "I don't have to go and ding myself up each and every play. I got somebody else to take a couple licks off of me, and I love that."