Jaguars position breakdown: A look at the running backs

James Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs with the ball against Mykal Walker of the Atlanta Falcons in the first half at TIAA Bank Field on November 28, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) (Sam Greenwood, 2021 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With training camp right around the corner, it’s time to look at the Jaguars roster position by position.

Each day this week, News4JAX takes a look at each offensive unit on the Jaguars.

Tuesday’s focus — the running backs.

No position has more question marks on the Jaguars roster than running back. With the top two players on the depth chart coming off major injuries, there is reason for concern. If all goes well, the Jaguars running back room should have a dynamic collection of talent. If not, who will they turn to?

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On the roster

James Robinson

Stats: 767 yards, 8 TDs, 31 catches

In 2021, only two things slowed Robinson down — Urban Meyer and injuries. When Robinson was healthy, his usage was mind boggling. Robinson was taken off the field on key downs and his role on the offense would disappear for long stretches. Robinson has shown he can carry the load on offense. The big question mark for Robinson heading into the season is the Achilles injury that sidelined him at the end of last year. Robinson’s rehab has kept him sidelined through the entire offseason program. The hope is to have him back on the field before Week 1 but coming back from a major injury doesn’t always go according to plan.

Travis Etienne Jr.

After a Lisfranc injury sidelined Etienne for all of his rookie year he is back. Etienne’s rookie campaign started with Meyer planning to use him as a slot receiver and ended during the preseason with a major injury. It has been a long road back to the field, but Etienne is medically cleared and participated in the Jaguars offseason program. He seems to have regained the speed that he flashed on the practice field last season, but how much of an impact will that speed make during the regular season? No one truly knows the impact he can have since for all intent and purposes Etienne will be a rookie this year.

Snoop Conner

The new face in the running back room this year is rookie Conner. The former Ole Miss Rebel is a physical runner who choses violence every time he touches the ball. The most important thing about Conner when it comes to the Jaguars backfield is that he is not coming off a major injury. The Jaguars traded up to get Conner in the fifth round of draft. Conner’s running should earn him some reps in short yardage situations early on.

Ryquell Armstead

After a promising start to his career COVID-19 derailed things for Armstead and he is looking to get back on track. During the lead up to the 2020 season, Armstead contracted COVID and he was hospitalized twice and missed the entire season. The Jaguars waived Armstead during the offseason. Armstead had short stints with the Giants, Saints and Packers before he landed back with the Jaguars to end last season. In limited action, Armstead rushed for 80 yards last season.

Nathan Cottrell

The speedster has been with the Jaguars since 2020, spending most of his time on the practice squad. Cottrell’s best chance at making the active roster will come on special teams.

Mekhi Sargent

The second-year running back bounced around as a rookie, spending time with the Titans and Rams before ending up in Jacksonville.


Doug Pederson has a history of going with the running-back-by-committee approach. He should be thrilled looking at the pieces he could have in his committee with the Jaguars.

Robinson has shown he can consistently get on base. While Etienne bring the home run hitting ability. That duo has some real upside, but it is far from a sure thing. Robinson has yet to touch the field since his injury last season and Etienne is like having an extra first-round pick. If all goes well, that pairing will carry the majority of the load. The third running back spot is in flux. I’d give Conner the early edge but a fifth-round pick is far from a sure thing.

About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.