Doug Pederson sees progress, momentum with Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Doug Pederson and the Jaguars are excited to wrap up part of their offseason program and move on to the next phase.

Then the real work begins.

With a 3-14 record from a season ago in the rearview mirror, growing optimism around the locker room sets the Jaguars up for a much-anticipated season

“The team is well placed. We give them a lot,” Pederson said. “We have to get the job done, and our next phase of pads will help us get to where we want to be.”

OTA BOOKLET | Josh Allen continues his good work on, off the pitch

The Jacksonville Jaguars held their seventh OTA (organized team activity) on Monday morning, and there was plenty of anticipation for the upcoming season.

The mandatory minicamp starts next week and expectations are starting to change with the team.

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For Pederson, he wants to keep the momentum going and keep the anticipation going before minicamp.

Among that anticipation is the return of running back Travis Etienne Jr., who is looking to make his official NFL regular season debut this fall.

The Jaguars selected Etienne in the first round last season, but he suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot and missed his rookie season after undergoing surgery.

Pederson said it was exciting to see the Jennings, Louisiana native back on the court this offseason.

“It does a great job manipulating a lot of information, and it was great to put it in different places to see what it can do,” Pederson said.

During his four-year college career at Clemson, Etienne rushed for a school-best 4,952 yards while adding 1,155 receiving yards and scoring a total of 78 touchdowns.

Pederson noted that it’s fun to be able to place Etienne in different places and experiment with what he can do.

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“Now is the time to experiment on both sides of the ball to see what the guys can do,” Pederson said. “Etienne was one of those guys.”

After practice, Trevor Lawrence said he felt good to have his former Clemson full-back Etienne running together.

“It’s exciting to have him back there, and it feels good,” he said. “He adds another element to our attack. It gives us a whole new look.

James Robinson is another running back in the depth chart. A pre-season foot injury to Etienne, followed by an early-season injury to Carlos Hyde, meant Robinson had the backfield all to himself.

He rushed for 767 yards and eight touchdowns on 164 carries before a torn Achilles ended his season in December.

Pederson said he was delighted to see Robinson return to the field soon for the Jaguars.

“He’s shown the progression to get back on the court and shows where he is in terms of health,” Pederson said. “We can’t wait to see him again because he’s heading in the right direction.”

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Defensively, the Jaguars will look to star linebacker Josh Allen, who is entering his fourth year in the NFL.

Last season, the Cumberland County, Virginia native had a rebounding season (7.5 sacks, interception, forced fumble) after playing just eight games in 2020.

Pederson notes that the key to Allen being more consistent is simply being who he is.

“He doesn’t have to do anything but be Josh Allen. His talent will speak for itself,” Pederson said. “He’s an exciting player who can make a lot of defensive plays, and with the new additions he can get back to that.”

Among those new defensive additions is No. 1 pick Travon Walker.

Pederson said Walker’s defensive presence can only help with Allen’s ability.

“The opponents will have to focus and conspire against us (with Walker) and allow Josh to be released,” Pederson said. “Walker and these pieces will help Josh play like he did a few years ago.”

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Lawrence said there’s a lot of optimism — along with the roster improvements — that will make the next season exciting.

“Our roster has improved with some very good players and our coaching staff. It’s all been so well structured and approached and will help tremendously,” Lawrence said. “Leadership is going to make a big difference.”

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