One of the 2021 NFL draft class' top offensive talents may have to officially start his career a little late.
Jacksonville Jaguars first-round pick Travis Etienne Jr. sustained a likely sprained foot in a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, head coach Urban Meyer said via NFL.com.
ESPN's Adam Schefter later reported Etienne was in a walking boot and will be out indefinitely with a mid-foot sprain.
Etienne will undergo further testing Tuesday.
The Jaguars ruled Etienne questionable to return with a foot injury during the game. He finished with one carry for 1 yard and one catch on one target for 3 yards, after posting only one carry in his first preseason game last week.
The running back's return date is unclear.
Travis Etienne's outlook becomes even murkier
Etienne's fit with the Jaguars seemed to make immediate sense on draft night, mostly because he would be reunited with first overall pick and Clemson teammate Trevor Lawrence, with whom Etienne won three ACC championships and the 2018-19 College Football Playoff.
What made less sense, however, was the Jaguars using a first-round pick — already considered by many to be an inefficient draft tactic — when they already had James Robinson, who rushed for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns as an undrafted rookie last year. The Jaguars also had veteran running back Carlos Hyde aboard, as well as receiving specialist Dare Ogunbowale.
Etienne's talent may be superior to all of those names, but adding him to a room that already had a player like Robinson, who very much looked like a quality starter last year, when the team already had so many other needs (see: its offensive line's performance on Monday), felt like questionable decision-making.
Meyer answered some questions and raised plenty of others when he revealed Etienne would work as a wide receiver during minicamp. The idea of Etienne working as an H-back, a position Meyer has been known to prioritize, made some sense, but further muddied the waters of the Jaguars' offense. The Jaguars also already had a player seemingly suited for the position in Laviska Shenault, who racked up 691 yards from scrimmage last year and is built like a running back at 6-foot-1, 226 pounds.
Even for a potentially elite talent, all of that makes for a crowded entrance. And now, Etienne may not be on the field at all in Week 1. We'll have to wait and see when he returns. And where.
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