Jaguars’ rookies ready for a better 2022 season

As 3-14 year ends, players like Tyson Campbell, Travis Etienne look for better 2nd season

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell is stopped by Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins after an interception during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Jacksonville. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It is the offseason in Jacksonville. Finally.

On Monday, players arrived at the stadium and cleaned out their lockers. That officially ended the rookie year for Trevor Lawrence and the 2021 draft class. Ultimately, it was a trying year for the veteran players, but it was even more difficult for rookies experiencing the NFL for the first time.

As the rookies officially shed that rookie title, some of them shared what they learned from this season.

Andre Cisco said it took longer for him to earn his spot on the field than he expected.

“I think it was just not what I expected. My expectations were to come in and do a bunch of great things right when I got to the NFL,” he said. “But it doesn’t always happen like that. "

Playing time was not a problem for rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell, who earned a starting spot during training camp. For Campbell, his biggest struggles were adjusting to the NFL level. He struggled early in the season before raising his level of play over the last few weeks and said he was able to do that because he just kept working and trusting his coaches.

“To begin the season, it was a little bit of growing pains, getting used to the speed of the game and finding myself in the defense. But I stuck with it, kept working hard, kept trusting my position coaches,” Campbell said.

For Travis Etienne, this season was an exercise of patience. Etienne was injured during the preseason and missed the entire regular season. He remained around the team and only missed game days. Etienne said he tried to approach every day as if he was playing so that he will be prepared for next season when he is back on the field.

“I was very involved, I just wasn’t there on game day, but I was in the meetings all the time. I still learned the playbook, still doing all of those things, just trying to build that mindset as if I was a pro,” Etienne said. “Well, I am a pro, but just build that mindset as if I was still playing so that way next year, I don’t have to create those habits.”

This season did not go the way anyone on the roster expected. That’s why the Jaguars are in the middle of another coaching search. Some defensive players said they hope that whoever the next coach is will keep defensive coordinator Joe Cullen in place.

“I would love to see Coach Cullen come back. I feel like it’s just another thing that I feel like would be best for us. I know we might get the new coach or whatever, but with Coach Cullen, I feel like it’s the consistency,” said defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen.

Jaguars interim head coach Darrell Bevell said that general manager Trent Baalke approached him and told him that he will have a chance to interview for the permanent gig.

Bevell said after spending a season with the franchise that owner Shad Khan wants to win and the organization just needs some consistency.

“I do think there needs to be some stability, some consistency, some continuity, particularly for a young quarterback as well,” he said. “But I’ll get a chance, hopefully in the near future, to talk to him about it.”

If Khan did decide to promote Bevell to the head coaching position, it would not be a flashy move but it would provide stability. This was Bevell’s second stint as an interim head coach after he led the Lions in 2020.

Bevell said that this experience was different as he tried to apply what he learned from his previous interim coaching duties and captain the Jaguars’ ship through the dysfunction that surrounded them this season.

“There was a lot of things and a lot of challenges that we had during the season. The first thing I wanted to do was to just try to get the ship steadied and get it headed in the right direction,” Bevell said.

The next coaches expected to interview for the Jaguars job over the next weeks are Bevell, Bill O’Brien and Nathaniel Hackett.

About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.