James Robinson was a surprise participant at the start of Jaguars training camp this summer, returning to the field roughly seven months after tearing his Achilles late in the 2021 season. Now, the running back is poised to complete his speedy recovery, with coach Doug Pederson confirming to reporters Monday that Robinson will play in Jacksonville’s 2022 season opener on Sept. 11.
The 24-year-old Robinson has been practicing as the Jaguars’ top running back in recent weeks, so he was expected to be available to open the year. His anticipated return is still notable considering many players require up to 10-12 months of rehab following an Achilles tear. Undrafted out of Illinois State in 2020, Robinson opened camp on the active roster and easily avoided the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would’ve sidelined him at least four games, during final cuts.
The only question now is whether Robinson will get the bulk of the Jaguars’ carries in Week 1 against the Commanders, and beyond. The third-year pro has been one of the NFL‘s steadiest rushers when healthy, topping 1,000 yards as a rookie and nearly totaling 1,000 scrimmage yards in 14 games last year.
But Jacksonville is also expected to deploy 2021 first-round pick Travis Etienne Jr. in a prominent role. Etienne missed his entire rookie year with a Lisfranc injury but has been noted for his pass-catching potential. It’s possible Etienne could split, or even surpass, Robinson in total touches to open 2022 as the latter eases his way back into the lineup.