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Doug Pederson on Jaguars' running game: 'We have to get Tank (Bigsby) going, bottom line'

The Jacksonville Jaguars want to get their Tank rolling in 2024.

Jags head coach Doug Pederson noted earlier in the offseason that the club wants to lessen the load on starting running back Travis Etienne. A key to accomplishing that goal begins with getting more out of 2023 third-round pick Tank Bigsby.

"We have to get Tank going, bottom line," Pederson said last week, via JagsWire. "He is too good -- that's why we drafted him. I think early he had some 'what is that?'-type plays for whatever reason, right or wrong. Again, in and out of the lineup. He is a young player that we're excited about. Like we talked about last year, we take some burden off of Etienne a little bit, keep him healthy for the remainder of the season."

Bigsby earned seven carries in Week 1 last season but lost an odd fumble that turned into an Indianapolis touchdown. From there on out, he rarely saw more than three carries a week, ending the season with three games of three-plus carries and four tilts in which he didn't even take a single tote.

The Auburn product was clearly out of the rotation near the end of the season, taking one carry for -2 yards from Weeks 13 through Week 16. It took a 26-0 blowout win over Carolina in Week 17 for Bigsby to get 10 carries.

For the season, the running back netted 50 carries for 132 yards (2.6 yards per attempt), two TDs and two fumbles -- not exactly what the Jags expected when they made him a third-round pick.

The hope is that improved blocking up the middle, with the addition of center Mitch Morse, will help the Jags' running game, including Bigsby. But the second-year back must do a better job of finding the holes and breaking arm tackles than he did during his rookie campaign.

The Jags brought back running back D'Ernest Johnson, who mostly played a special teams role last season, giving them a trio of Etienne, Bigsby and Johnson yet again. In a draft shallow at the RB, Jacksonville could run back the same group as last year -- plus potential undrafted free-agent options. If the Jaguars are to get more out of the ground game while lessening Etienne's workload to keep him fresh down the stretch, Bigsby must have a more significant impact than 2023.

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