Jags move forward with Etienne, who plans to ‘grow up fast’
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Coach Doug Pederson insists the Jacksonville Jaguars never shopped demoted running back James Robinson.
He says the New York Jets called Monday to inquire about a trade and the Jaguars were faced with a tough decision. They chose to move on from a popular and productive player and go with a duo that includes second-year pro Travis Etienne and seldom-used JaMycal Hasty.
It was a somewhat risky decision — Jacksonville got a conditional sixth-round pick in return — considering the Jaguars (2-5) were left with one of their least-experienced backfields in franchise history. Etienne has 68 career carries; Hasty has 60. Third-stringer Snoop Conner, a fifth-round draft pick in April, has been inactive every game this season.
But it was a clear indication the Jaguars are moving forward with Etienne, a first-round pick in 2021 who missed his entire rookie season following a foot injury.
“I feel like it’s on me to grow up really fast,” Etienne said. “As a competitor, you want to be that guy and now it’s here. Now I have my own plate to look at. I don’t have to take off no one else’s plate.
“And that’s what I’m going to do: put my head down, work and get really good at the things that they pay me to do.”
Etienne has 414 yards rushing, including 271 the past three weeks. He had runs of 48 and 49 yards, respectively, in the first two starts of his professional career and averaged 8.3 yards a carry in those games. Robinson, meanwhile, has looked fairly pedestrian since a 50-yard touchdown run at the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3.
“One thing I know that you don’t know is that there’s a lot of information,” Pederson said, seemingly pointing to analytical breakdowns of Robinson and Etienne. “I’m not going to divulge all the information. It’s for me to know and for us to know all the details on that.”
Robinson is the sixth player Jacksonville has traded in the past two years, following receiver Laviska Shenault (Carolina), cornerback CJ Henderson (Carolina), quarterback Gardner Minshew (Philadelphia), cornerback Josiah Scott (Philadelphia) and tight end Josh Oliver (Baltimore).
The Jaguars also have traded away at least one player in five consecutive seasons, a list that includes cornerback Jalen Ramsey (Los Angeles Rams), quarterback Nick Foles (Chicago) and Calais Campbell (Baltimore).
Robinson is in the final year of his three-year rookie contract, and the Jaguars weren’t expected to re-sign him after adding Etienne and Conner in consecutive drafts.
Etienne is considered one of the franchise’s few building blocks — along with quarterback Trevor Lawrence, pass rusher Travon Walker, linebacker Devin Lloyd and cornerback Tyson Campbell.
Etienne is scheduled to make his third consecutive start when the Jaguars try to end a four-game skid against Denver (2-5) at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday.
Robinson will reunite with his former teammates when the Jets host Jacksonville for a Thursday night game in December. Etienne and Robinson are sure to exchange pregame pleasantries and probably postgame jerseys. They had become really close over the past two years and had plans to hang out Monday before Robinson was told about the trade.
“I was stunned just like everyone else,” Etienne said. “It was just kind of like, ‘Dang.’ It just lets you know that it’s a business. But I’m happy for both of us. As a competitor, this is what I wanted. And as a competitor, that’s what he wanted.
“Now he can go in there and be the man. He gets the carries that he wants, that he needs. ... I feel like it’s the same for me. We both are going to have a chance to showcase our skills and be hell of a players.”
NOTES: The Jaguars placed starting CB Shaquill Griffin (back) on injured reserve, meaning he will miss at least the team’s next four games. They also signed CB Tevaughn Campbell off the Las Vegas Raiders’ practice squad.
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