On Tuesday, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back Travis Etienne was placed on injured reserve and will miss the entire 2021 NFL season after suffering a Lisfranc injury on his left foot during the team’s 23-21 preseason loss at the New Orleans Saints on Monday night. Tests showed the extent of the damage and he will undergo surgery, according to a league source who told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Since Etienne was placed on the IR before making the initial 53-man roster, that makes him ineligible to return this season.
This loss is huge for the Jags, who drafted Etienne at 25th overall in this year’s draft. Coming into the season, new head coach Urban Meyer said he planned to use the rookie running back’s skill set similar to how he used Percy Harvin at the University of Florida. Meyer said he hoped that Etienne would bring that big-play ability to his offense. Last season, Jacksonville ranked last respectively in the NFL in combined rushes of 20 or more yards and pass plays of 30 or more yards, per ESPN Stats & Information. In total, the team had 16, which was 33 less than the NFL leader in that category, the Baltimore Ravens.
During his four-year college career at Clemson, Etienne became one of the most explosive players in the nation. He was first in college football with 55 runs of 20 or more yards for three seasons (2017-2020), while rushing for 2,053 yards and 21 touchdowns. He averaged 37.3 yards per carry (YPC) on those big plays. In addition, he also had six receptions of 30 or more yards, which gave him 61 explosive plays. He left Clemson as the ACC’s all-time leading rusher, with 4,752 yards.
With him now out for the year, the Jaguars will have to hope RB James Robinson can continue to be their workhorse at the position and produce similar (or better) numbers to the ones he had during his 2020 rookie campaign (1,070 rushing yards, seven rushing TDs, 49 receptions, 344 receiving yards, and three receiving TDs). The team will also rely on veteran RB Carlos Hyde and other running backs like Nathan Cottrell, Dare Ogunbowale, and Devine Ozigbo, should they make the team. It’s also possible that Jacksonville could sign (if they are available after being cut before or during the season) or trade for a running back from another team as well. Either way, besides having Robinson as the clear-cut starter, the backfield depth behind him figures to be shaky.
Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.