Updates on Etienne, Shenault, Chark, and Free Agent Spending
Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke met with the media on Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. Having been on the job just about a month, they spoke about their growing relationship together and, more importantly, provided some updates on players and topics of interest.
2021 first-round pick running back Travis Etienne suffered a lisfranc injury (foot) late in the preseason of his rookie year, putting him on the shelf for the entire campaign. But according to Trent Baalke, Etienne is ahead of schedule with his rehab.
"His development in terms of where he is at physically right now – he's ahead of schedule," said Baalke. "He looks really good. He took the year to really transform his body and learn how to be a pro in his development. We are really excited to get him back on the grass, and he is a little bit ahead of schedule right now.
As the Jaguars' roster is currently constructed, Etienne and James Robinson appear to be a high-level one-two punch in the backfield, but with both coming off significant foot injuries — Robinson suffered a torn achilles in late December — the Jaguars might need to add another talented runner to the mix.
Trent Baalke was also asked about wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. — who is coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign — and if the team planned to move on from the offensive weapon.
Not at all – I don't know where that would come from," Baalke clarified. "We are very high on Laviska. He does a lot of good things. He is an interesting … Obviously at his size and his speed and the things that he can do, we have to find ways to get him the ball. That is not my job – that is Coach [Pederson's] job. That would be a great question for [Coach Pederson], but by no means has the ship sailed on Laviska."
Laviska's greatest hurdle moving forward will be to show more consistent hands. He regularly let the ball hit the turf in 2021, dropping double-digit passes. But his ability to create YAC, touch the ball in a variety of ways, and come up with clutch plays should not be overlooked. It appears the Jaguars are moving forward with Viska in their plans, at least for the time being.
Later the same day, Doug Pederson joined the official radio station of the Jaguars, 1010XL, and talked about soon-to-be free agent wide receiver DJ Chark. "Hopefully, we get DJ Chark back," Pederson shared. He views Chark as one of the young foundational pieces of the offense.
Chark is entering his fifth season as a pro. He's shown off the ability to stretch the field as an outside receiver but has struggled to stay healthy during his tenure in Jacksonville. Will the Jaguars bet on him turning a corner from an injury perspective?
According to Brent Martineau, Trent Baalke said the Jaguars would be "very aggressive" in free agency. That's good news considering the Jags struggled to reel in some of their top targets in 2021. The team has over $54 million in salary-cap space and a number of roster concerns, including the offensive line and receiver group.
Keep it locked here for more updates!
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