Jacksonville Jaguars first-round running back Travis Etienne missed his entire rookie campaign after suffering a season-ending Lisfranc injury in the preseason that required surgery.
Etienne said sitting on the sidelines was tough on Sundays, but the RB did most of his rehab at the facility and was able to be in meetings during the week.
"I think being in the meetings every day, it helped me in a way, helped me in a sense because I felt like I was a part of it," Etienne said, via John Reid of The Florida Times-Union. "I feel like I was a part of everything. I was like a little kid going to the birthday, but I just couldn't have any birthday cake.
"That's the best way I can put it. That's how this year's been for me. So next year, I'm just looking forward to just indulging in all the cake that I can."
The Jags hope Etienne can have his cake and eat it too in 2022.
The No. 25 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is on schedule in his rehab and expected to be full-go come training camp in July.
"I definitely feel like as of now I'll be ready," Etienne said. "I'm ready to go. The next milestone for me is to get back doing weightlifting, like squats and stuff like that. I haven't really been squatting because it is a Lisfranc injury, and it was in the bottom of the foot."
Added Etienne: "My upper body has never looked better. I feel like mentally, I just had to slow down, take a step back and enjoy the process. This is my first-ever injury. I had to step back and look at the game from the outside in. I did get the injury, but I never thought it would happen. I feel when I get back on the field, it's going to be different."
With Urban Meyer fired, Etienne's situation becomes more interesting in Jacksonville.
The Jags are in desperate need of speed at the skill positions. Etienne was set to play the Percy Harvin role in Meyer's offense and inject much-needed turbo-boost to the game plan. Unfortunately, the preseason injury wiped that out.
Will the next coach or offensive coordinator view Etienne in a similar fashion and deploy the speedy playmaker in a diverse fashion in the backfield, out wide, in the slot and create mismatches? Or will the RB become the latest pick who went to waste in the perennial rebuild in Jacksonville?