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The Jacksonville Jaguars are primed for the most exciting season in franchise history. Man, does it feel good to say that!
A shot in the jaw.
Those were the words that Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer used on Tuesday when describing his reaction to the season-ending injury that first round pick, running back Travis Etienne suffered on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints.
Etienne’s season with the Jaguars is over before it can even begin, and the Jaguars will have to look forward to replacing his expected production.
“He [Travis Etienne Jr.] was really coming on in practice and we saw his big play ability in practice, not in a game yet. [It’s a] tough injury,” said Meyer. “How do we fill that? We’re still in that conversation right now.”
Jaguars starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence played with Etienne for three years at Clemson prior to re-uniting in Jacksonville this year. On Tuesday, Lawrence made mention of Etienne’s toughness, saying he thinks the rookie running back is handling it well, as best he can:
“I’ve played with him for four years and have never seen him hurt. This is like the first serious injury of his playing career so it is tough.”
“He is handling it great but just trying to support him and keep him locked in because he will be out physically but this will be a really good time mentally to make sure he is learning everything and getting ahead so that when he does come back it will make it that much easier for him. He is doing really well — obviously it is tough with that injury especially right before the season starts but he is going to be good.”
The Jaguars don’t have much in the way of replacements for Etienne currently on the roster, at least not individually. The team has brought in a few players that can play a role in that vein such as receivers Tavon Austin and Jamal Agnew, but neither player has really shown that much in the way of offensive production.
It is not yet clear whether Austin will even make the team, while Agnew is being counted on simply as a return specialist.
At running back, the Jaguars will have plenty to feel comfortable with as second-year running back James Robinson will continue to be the team’s dominating ball carrier, with an ability to make plenty of plays out of the backfield. He is, however, not a home run threat and the team likely doesn’t have one currently stashed away on the roster.
According to Meyer, a player that will now need to step up and becomes more valuable is Dare Ogunbowale, running back is a violent position and Ogunbowale has shown plenty in the past that he has the ability to become a handcuff for not only Robinson, but also veteran back Carlos Hyde, who has quickly become the team’s sole No. 2 back for the season.
“Zig [Devine Ozigbo] had a nice run,” Meyer added, “Nate [Nathan Cottrell] had a nice two-point conversion, and we are keeping our eyes open.”
The Jaguars are keeping their eyes peeled to the waiver wire, a position in which the hold priority for from now until Week 3 of the regular season. Many teams will be cutting players that likely could make other rosters, and the Jaguars will need to make sure to acquire talent in order to fill the void that Etienne leaves behind.