JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Running back James Robinson could be on a snap count when Jacksonville opens the season at Washington on Sunday.
The third-year pro is working his way back from a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg sustained at the New Yok Jets in December. He was cleared to begin practicing in full last month, but he didn’t play in the preseason and hasn’t endured more than thud contact in training camp.
Coach Doug Pederson made it clear Wednesday that Robinson is good to go against the Commanders. One question remains, though: How much can he realistically provide?
“I think we’ve got to get into the football game,” Pederson said. “I’ve been in situations like this, too, where you want to go in and you want to control the pace of play with a guy like James. At the same time, if he’s feeling good and there hasn’t been any setbacks or anything, then you just go and roll with it.”
Robinson’s return — and his role — is one of several story lines for the Jaguars heading into the opener:
— Pederson’s debut with Jacksonville comes against his former quarterback in Philadelphia, Carson Wentz.
— Five-time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff returns to Washington, where he spent the first seven years of his NFL career.
— Jacksonville has lost 17 consecutive road games, which is tied for the ninth-longest skid since the 1970 merger.
— The Jags also have dropped 16 straight against the NFC, an NFL record for any team in non-conference games.
Only five players on Jacksonville’s current roster were on hand for every loss in the two skids: punter Logan Cooke, cornerback Tre Herndon, left tackle Cam Robinson, center Tyler Shatley and defensive end Dawuane Smoot.
“We’ve just got to worry about ourselves,” right tackle Jawaan Taylor said. “We got to embrace it, get better as a team and go out and get some wins.”
Robinson staying healthy would help.
He ran for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games as an undrafted rookie from Illinois State in 2020. He played 14 games again last year, finishing with 767 yards on the ground and eight scores.
He says he’s been ready “since the last couple weeks of training camp.”
“If I had limitations, I wouldn’t be out there,” Robinson said. “I feel good, and I’ll go out there to be me again.”
Jacksonville does have a contingency plan. Travis Etienne, the 25th overall pick in the 2021 draft who missed his entire rookie season following a foot injury, is likely to see more playing time while Robinson works his way back into playing shape.
“His speed is crazy,” Robinson said.
Etienne, the career leading rusher in Atlantic Coast Conference history, suffered a Lisfranc injury in a preseason game and had season-ending surgery. He was cleared to return in the spring and was one of the team’s top playmakers throughout camp.
“It’s nice to have two different types of runners because you can do different things during the game,” Pederson said. “It’s more, too, about what works and what’s going to work as you get into the game and as you make adjustments.”
NOTES: Pederson announced Taylor as the starting right tackle, saying he beat out second-year pro Walker Little for the job. “Of course, Jawaan had been there before and it was really his job to lose, so to speak,” Pederson said. “He came back and showed us some great things and is deserving of the spot.” … The Jaguars have one player on their injury report, DT Foley Fatukasi (calf). … Jacksonville voted five guys as captains: QB Trevor Lawrence, DE Josh Allen, LB Foye Oluokun, Scherff and Cooke.
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