Travis Etienne out for season in Urban Meyer’s latest Jaguars obstacle

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Urban Meyer’s transition from the college ranks to the NFL hasn’t gone as smoothly as he might have hoped.

Rookie running back and Clemson product Travis Etienne left the Jaguars’ preseason game against the Saints Monday night with a foot injury. On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed that it was a Lisfranc injury and Etienne will be placed on injured reserve — ending his season.

Etienne was one of Meyer’s two first-round picks in 2021, the other being No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence, who spent much of Monday’s game against the Saints running for his life behind the Jags’ offensive line.

Lawrence led Jacksonville to three points on five drives, managing 113 yards on 14-of-23 passing with a 73.3 rating.

“I thought we did some things well,” Lawrence said after the game. “A lot of other things we need to get better at.”

Urban Meyer will be without Travis Etienne (right) for the whole 2021 season.
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He fared slightly better in his first outing, but the offense as a whole has looked rough in both preseason games. Meyer has been known for running the football effectively throughout his college coaching career, but the Jaguars are averaging 2.6 yards per carry throughout the preseason. And now they’ll be without their ostensible RB1.

The offensive line has generated little push. The Jaguars have yet to score a touchdown with either Lawrence or Gardner Minshew under center, with their only scoring drives behind either C.J. Beathard or Jake Luton in garbage time.

“The starting offense, two weeks in a row … we’re just struggling to get into some rhythm,” Meyer said. “We’re not balanced right now.”

It’s dangerous to read too much into the preseason, but the starters haven’t shown much to get excited about. That is, of course, without mentioning that Meyer has yet to even name Lawrence as the starter. He maintains it’s still a competition with Minshew, which is either coach-speak or a sign that Lawrence isn’t quite ready.

Trevor Lawrence takes a hit in the Jaguars' first preseason game against the Browns.
Trevor Lawrence takes a hit in the Jaguars’ first preseason game against the Browns.
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And there have already been a number of oddities out of Jaguars camp. Meyer reportedly used the “Winners and Losers” drills he employed to determine playing time in college — drills where players compete in one-on-one blocking competitions — to help with roster cuts.

And then there was Tim Tebow. The quarterback-turned-baseball player-turned-tight end predictably didn’t make it past the first week of roster cuts for the Jaguars after Meyer gave his former college quarterback a contract.

There’s no reason to panic yet because nothing matters until the games count. But the last few weeks have been a real “welcome to the NFL” moment for Meyer, and his ability to coach at the next level will be tested early.

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