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Jaguars have big goal for Travis Etienne

Travis Etienne at a press conference

April 30, 2021; Jacksonville, FL, USA; The Jaguars 25th pick in the first round of the draft, running back Travis Etienne during Friday afternoon’s press conference at TIAA Bank Field. April 30, 2021. Mandatory Credit: Bob Self/Florida Times-Union

The Jacksonville Jaguars are shooting for Saturn with talented young running back Travis Etienne.

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson spoke with reporters this week and revealed the team’s big goal next season for Etienne. They would like the 24-year-old to get to 1,600-1,700 yards rushing. Pederson noted that he wants to see Etienne get downhill and produce more chunk runs of 10-plus yards (Etienne already had a stellar 10-plus-yard run rate of 11.8 percent as a rookie last season).

“That’s the next step for him, I mean it was his rookie year,” said Peterson of Etienne, per NFL.com. “You don’t just hand a guy a ball and let him go run. Sometimes that happens but there’s that skill and ability to anticipate a hole.

“We always talk about speed through the hole, not to the hole type of thing,” Pederson added. “He’s really embraced that this training camp. That, to me, is the next step for him and that 11-12-13 [percentage of 10-plus-yard runs. Now the yards start creeping up, and maybe he’s pushing 1,600-1,700 yards as a rusher.”

The former first-round pick Etienne has the physical tools to pull it off. He has adequate size at 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds with very good speed and acceleration (once running a 4.4 40-yard dash). Etienne already went for 1,125 yards on a fantastic 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie last year and will only get better at seeing open lanes and ripping off big runs.

1,600-plus yards in a single season is an ambitious total for most running backs these days — only Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, and Josh Jacobs (the NFL’s last three rushing leaders) have reached that mark over the last half-decade. But the Jaguars have full faith in Etienne to join that exclusive club in 2023 (provided that he can continue to lay off the junk food).

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