Jaguars backfield gets honorable mention in top running back rotation list

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

Running back Travis Etienne reminded everyone of the kind of plays he can make in his preseason debut against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. However, he isn’t the only running back the Jacksonville Jaguars will lean on in 2022. James Robinson and rookie Snoop Conner should also get their fair share of carries, and the three of them recently popped up on a list of the best backfield tandems.

Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports recently made a list of the top running back rotations in the NFL and the Jaguars backfield popped up as an honorable mention. Benjamin likes Robinson’s production and Etienne’s ability to make big plays but points out that they’re both coming off serious injuries.

"Robinson has been a steady hand, and Etienne apparently gives off Deebo Samuel vibes, but both guys are coming off serious injuries."

Other running back tandems that appear on Benjamin’s list were the Tennesee Titans (10), the Carolina Panthers (9), the Denver Broncos (8), the New Saints (7), the Dallas Cowboys (6), the Baltimore Ravens (5), and the Green Packers’ (4). The Vikings finished the third spot. The Indianapolis Colts landed at No. 2 and the Cleveland Browns got the top spot.

Etienne suffered a Lisfranc injury one year ago against the same Browns in the preseason. He sat out his entire rookie campaign but is now back in the fold. On the other hand, Robinson is still recovering from the torn Achilles he sustained late in the 2021 season. He didn’t land on the Physically Unable to Perform list and has already started partaking in team drills, meaning he’s close to returning.

The Jaguars can field a top 10 RB tandem if they manage to stay healthy

All things considered, the Jags’ spot in Benjamin’s ranking is fair. Running back is poised to be a strength in 2022 but both Robinson and Etienne must take the field in the regular season before they can move up into the top 10, which can happen if they avoid injuries.

Robinson had a historic rookie season and he was one of the NFL’s top running backs in 2021 when it came to both advance and traditional stats. Had Urban Meyer used him appropriately, his numbers would have been even better. He will give the Jaguars’ backfield a boost once he’s back.

For the time being, Travis Etienne can carry the load. He consistently made plays in training camp and had a couple of big gains against the Browns. So far, it doesn’t look like he’s having any setbacks. Also, the Jags have rookie Snoop Conner. Although Cody Benjamin didn’t say anything about him, he did list him in Jacksonville’s backfield.

The rookie out of Ole Miss has had 11 carries for 31 yards in the preseason but most of his playing time has come behind the second-string offensive line and should be more productive with the starting unit.

Trevor Lawrence will be the focal point of the offense in 2022 but Etienne and Robinson will take some pressure off his shoulders.

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