Breaking Down the Jaguars and Rams Running Back Situation
In every preseason there are one or two teams that are bound to catch the injury bug. Last year we saw it with the 49ers, this year we've seen it with the Jaguars and Rams. More specifically, we've seen it in the Jaguars and Rams' running back room. The Jaguars lost their first round running back, Travis Etienne for what looks to be the entire season. The Rams already lost Cam Akers for the season, but they just lost his backup, Darrell Henderson, for some time due to a thumb sprain.
Etienne suffered a Lisfranc injury in his foot during a week two preseason game against the Saints. The Jaguars fanbase has to be extremely disappointed because Etienne was showing promise in training camp. One thing I never really understood was why the Jaguars drafted him in the first place. After what James Robinson did in his rookie season, running back was not a need for this team. The Jaguars were the worst team in the NFL last season and decided to add on to a position that was already a strength for them. It made no sense to me, but falls perfectly in line with what general manager, Trent Baalke, likes to do.
Everyone has a friend who notoriously rage quits whenever something doesn't go his way in a video game. It's no secret that the Jaguars were obsessed with Kadarius Toney coming out of Florida this year. Once he was taken prior to the Jaguars' pick, it is as if Baalke and Urban Meyer said "f' it, let's just do something that will make Trevor Lawrence happy". Etienne is a pure running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, but the Jaguars were trying to use him in a way similar to Percy Harvin. It wasn't natural and I hated the fit from head to toe. Now that Etienne is out of the picture, I see Robinson being used in a similar fashion to his rookie season. He deserves to be "the guy" in Jacksonville, even if it's just for this year. Robinson is a player I'd target in fantasy football, but not too high because the Jaguars still don't have a great team. They shouldn't be ahead in too many games this season and their offensive line isn't very good. From a fantasy football standpoint, Robinson is a low end running back two or high end running back three.
The Rams running back core has to be one of the worst in the NFL. Cam Akers who flashed signs of greatness in his rookie season, suffered a torn achilles very early in camp. With Darrell Henderson being the only player to have any NFL experience, after the Akers injury, the Rams running back room looked bare. Now, Henderson will be missing some time with a sprained thumb. While, I don't expect him to be out for too long, the Rams running back room is made up of just a second year undrafted free agent and a 7th round rookie. While I'm sure Xavier Jones and Jake Funk have a ton of potential, the Rams needed a spark. So they traded for former first round pick, Sony Michel. Michel lived up to the hype in his rookie season and was a machine in the Patriots 2018 playoff run. However, after his rookie season, Michel fell off hard. If there is a coach who can bring out the best in Michel, it will be Sean McVay. Maybe all Michel needs is a change of culture, and there is no better place for that to happen than Los Angeles.