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NFL Draft

James Robinson Poised For Heavy Workload After Travis Etienne’s Injury

  • The Draft Network
  • August 24, 2021
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Multiple reports out of Jacksonville on Tuesday indicate that Jaguars rookie running back Travis Etienne suffered a foot injury in the team’s Monday night preseason loss to the New Orleans Saints. Etienne was later seen postgame in a walking boot and has reportedly suffered a mid-foot sprain that will sideline him indefinitely and require further testing, per Adam Schefter.

The Jaguars drafted the former Clemson back with the 25th overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. If the injury forces Etienne to miss a notable amount of time, and the “indefinitely” designation suggests he might, then it’s a significant blow to a Jaguars offense that was set to lean on him heavily this season. The Jaguars spent a premium pick on Etienne due in part to his relationship with rookie franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who will surely miss the offensive weapon he’s most familiar with.

With us nearing the tail-end of the fantasy football draft season, Etienne’s injury raises a fair question about second-year running back James Robinson and whether or not this opens the door for another big season for Robinson, who was one of the league’s most heartwarming success stories a year ago. In short, the answer is yes.

There’s no question that Robinson should immediately step into the starting role—if it wasn’t already his to begin with—in Etienne’s absence. He’s the most talented back on the roster that’s currently healthy and shouldn’t see much competition for snaps from fellow UDFA running back Devine Ozigbo. If this injury leads to Robinson serving as the lead back for the foreseeable future, and all arrows currently point to that being the case, then his potential remains as high as it was last season… until Etienne is ready to return from injury and muddies these waters for us all over again. When that will be, nobody knows. For now, it’s time to ride the Robinson wave.

Robinson took the league by storm last season when he exploded onto the scene as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State. Robinson compiled 1,414 total yards while impressing both as a runner and as a pass-catcher. In fact, Robinson was so good as a rookie that it led to questions regarding whether or not drafting another running back in the first round even made sense for the Jaguars in 2021.

First-year Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has employed run-heavy offenses in every professional stop he’s made. It’s a reputation he especially built in Minnesota with Adrian Peterson, and it followed him to Seattle. With a rookie quarterback under center, even one as talented as Lawrence, it’s likely that Bevell will try to lean on the run game early and often. After all, his head coach Urban Meyer believes in doing so.

“I’ll fight anybody on this—you have to run the football to be successful at the highest level,” Meyer was quoted as saying last year.

It’s yet another reason to believe this situation bodes well for Robinson.

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