Absolutely brutal news out of Jacksonville, where Travis Etienne, the Jaguars’ second of two first-round picks, will miss his entire rookie season with a significant Lisfranc injury that needs surgery to repair, NFL Network and ESPN were the first to report.
ESPN classified the injury as a mid-foot sprain, which suggests the ligament was damaged, not the surrounding bones.
How long will Travis Etienne’s injury keep him out?
Etienne got hurt despite logging just three snaps Monday night. Cameras captured him limping quite noticeably on the sidelines, and reporters later spotted the former Clemson star on crutches.
The Jaguars officially placed Etienne on the injured reserve, formally ending his season.
According to a study published on the National Library of Medicine’s website, over 80 percent of NFL players who suffer Lisfranc injuries returned to play, with an average recovery period of 10 months. If that applies to Etienne, he should be ready to return for 2022 training camp. But there is a possibility, however remote, that he will never be the same.
“Overall, NFL players started fewer games 2 and 3 seasons following surgery and showed a significant decline in performance 1 season after return compared with pre-injury levels,” the report stated. “Offensive players had a significantly greater decline in statistical performance compared with defensive counterparts.”
That, surely, is worrisome for a Jaguars’ organization that was counting on Etienne to be a cornerstone of its rebuild. Etienne averaged 7.2 yards per carry and 11.3 yards per catch in four years at Clemson and scored 110 touchdowns from scrimmage.
His rookie year ends after just 2 exhibition carries for 3 yards.
Where does that leave the Jaguars, who were already expected to have one of the worst offenses in football and have looked absolutely lost in two preseason games? It robs No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence of his most familiar (and arguably best) weapon.
What does this mean for James Robinson?
Etienne’s injury probably means a whole lot of touches for James Robinson (which was probably in the cards even before Etienne’s injury). Robinson had 240 carries and 49 catches for more than 1,400 yards from scrimmage in 14 games as a rookie.
From a fantasy football perspective, this news gives Robinson a tremendous boost. He goes from being projected to have around 200 touches at his ceiling to potentially seeing around 300 in the 2021 season.
This boost to Robinson’s fantasy outlook will likely have him go from being viewed as a mid-to-low RB2 to virtually an RB1 candidate in 2021. Unless they bring in someone to compete with him, he should dominate the touches in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars’ limited roster also includes veteran Carlos Hyde and career backup Dare Ogunbowale at running back, among others.
In truth, the Jaguars are fortunate to escape Monday night’s exhibition loss without an even worse fate. Lawrence played the first half despite taking a series of direct hits from Saints’ defenders, including a particularly alarming one on a quarterback keeper.
But it’s hard to criticize first-year NFL coach Urban Meyer too much for Etienne’s injury. He’s a rookie who needs work, and the injury occurred on just his 16th snap of the preseason.