Jaguars Plan To Reduce RB Travis Etienne’s Workload

Travis Etienne missed his entire rookie season due to injury, but his play when healthy in 2022 led the Jaguars to trade away James RobinsonThe former took on lead back duties as a result, but last offseason the team attempted to add depth in the backfield and reduce his workload.

In spite of those efforts, Etienne wound up logging a 73% offensive snap share in 2023. His 325 touches (267 carries, 58 receptions) ranked third in the NFL, marking a major uptick compared to his usage rate the year before. The former first-rounder is still atop a running back depth chart which features Tank Bigsby and D’Ernest Johnson. Head coach Doug Pederson is hoping to lighten Etienne’s load in 2024, though.

“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Pederson said in an interview with NBC Sports’ Matthew Berry about Etienne’s usage last season (via PFT’s Josh Alper). “Johnson got hurt a little bit in there, and then Tank was a rookie and learning and coming on. We really like Tank and he’ll have a bigger impact for us this year for us. It’s not the recipe, necessarily, to put Travis in that situation. So I would consider knocking a few of those reps down to keep him healthy throughout the course of the year.”

Johnson and Bigsby saw a combined total of 91 carries with each playing 17 games in 2023, and Pederson’s comments suggest the latter could be the top beneficiary of a re-distribution of touches. That, in turn, would likely help Etienne return to his efficiency from 2022. The Clemson alum averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his first healthy campaign, but that figure fell to 3.8 last season. Improved play in general on offense would of course help his individual performance, but a more balanced RB workload would be a factor as well.

Etienne has one year remaining on his rookie contract as things stand, but the Jags could keep him in place through 2025 by picking up his fifth-year option. A decision on that option (which would cost $6.14MM) will need to be made this spring, and his projected workload moving forward will no doubt be a factor under consideration. In any event, it will be interesting to see how Etienne will be used in 2024 after a second straight offseason pointing to a reduction in touches.

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