Jacksonville Jaguars RB James Robinson ready to carry the load again

Running back James Robinson #30 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
Running back James Robinson #30 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars have placed running back Travis Etienne on the Injured/Reserve list, effectively ending his rookie campaign before it started. Nevertheless, the Jags’ rushing attack shouldn’t miss a beat, as James Robinson is ready for a big workload once again.

Etienne was going to be a big part of the Jaguars’ offense in 2021. Not having him for the year definitely hurts, but the team can withstand his absence due to the presence of Robinson. The team didn’t really need E-T-N as the former Redbird showed last season he could carry the load. In fact, he was one of the Jags’ few bright spots in 2021, toting the rock 240 times for 1,070 rushing yards. Moreover, he averaged 4.5 yards per carry and totaled 1,414 yards from the scrimmage, the most by an undrafted rookie in NFL history.

Etienne might have a bigger ceiling as a pass-catcher but Robinson is no slouch, hauling in 49 receptions for 344 yards and three touchdowns last season. He should have a big role on offense and should be even better than he was in 2020. He’s spent the offseason working on his craft and becoming faster and stronger. Back in July, he told the local media he’s better in better shape compared to last year.

"I feel a lot faster, and I’m able to move a little bit more, and I feel like I’ve gotten stronger.. I’m trying to slim it down a little bit, so it’s good, it feels good."

What should the Jacksonville Jaguars’ expect from James Robinson in 2021?

Even though Etienne was going to see the field often in 2021, Robinson was still going to be the lead running back. With the rookie out of the picture, the sophomore will see his usage go up but not as much last season, when he had a league-high 86 percent of a team’s total carries. The team’s brass signed veteran Carlos Hyde in the offseason. The Ohio State product will probably be the number two running back on the depth chart.

Keep in mind that this is Hyde’s second stint with the Jags. Back in 2018, he arrived in Jacksonville via trade and appeared in eight games with two starts. That year, he racked up 53 carries 189 yards with no touchdowns, so nobody would blame you if you’re skeptical about his role with the team in 2021.  However, he has been a productive player over the last two years, playing 26 games and tallying 326 carries for 1,426 yards and ten touchdowns.

Make no mistake though, the Jaguars won’t probably have a running back committee. Robinson will be the main back and Hyde spell him from time to time. If the Illinois State product manages to stay healthy, he should have no trouble posting his second 1,000-yard season. Robinson won’t be in the same tier as Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, or Delvin Cook but he has a legitimate shot to be a top 10 running back. Last year, opposing defenses stacked the box against him because they had an inefficient passing game. Now that Trevor Lawrence is the starting quarterback, teams won’t be able to load the box as often.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will have to wait one season to see Travis Etienne on the field. But knowing they have a proven running back in James Robinson should make them feel good ahead of the 2021 NFL regular season.

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