The Jaguars running back room has been more reminiscent of a carousel ride than an actual NFL team's position group over the last couple of weeks.
The Jaguars shocked the world by waiving former fourth overall pick Leonard Fournette last week. They then had to place Ryquell Armstead on the COVID-19 list for the second time this summer. At that point, it looked like Devine Ozigbo, James Robinson, and pass-catching back Chris Thompson would be the guys handling the bulk of the snaps. But Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone's plan hit another snag as Devine Ozigbo tweaked a hamstring, leaving the Jaguars with just two healthy running backs: Robinson and Thompson. Thursday morning, the Jaguars placed Ozigbo on IR and signed running back Dare Ogunbowale, whom the Bucs cut to make room for ... you guessed it, Leonard Fournette. The wild game of musical chairs in Jacksonville's backfield continues.
So, the Jaguars will have James Robinson, an undrafted rookie from Illinois State, as their featured ball carrier in week one. Robinson has impressed with his vision, toughness, and professionalism during training camp, but the question remains: is he ready to take on the role of a lead back in just his first NFL game?
Chris Thompson will contribute as well, but the Jaguars will try to get him the ball in space rather than having him run between the tackles.
Where does newly signed running back Dare Ogunbowale fit?
The 5'10'', 205-pound back played his college ball at Wisconsin, where he showed off the ability to run between the tackles and was a dangerous weapon in the passing game. During his first two years in the league, he played primarily on special teams. Playing in Washington during his rookie year, he rarely saw the field. But when he signed with the Buccaneers in year two, he started to earn more reps. During his first year with the Bucs, he was still primarily a special teamer, showing off his ability to cover kicks and return them. But in 2019, his third year in the league, Ogunbowale got his shot on offense. He wasn't a featured back by any stretch, but he became a useful third-down back for Tampa Bay, catching 46 passes for 286 yards.
Ogunbowale has rarely gotten the chance to tote the rock at the NFL level, but he may be in line for some carries this Sunday when the Jaguars take on the Colts. More likely, though, he'll be a backup for Chris Thompson, an insurance policy for the Jaguars' main receiving threat out of the backfield. But should James Robinson or Chris Thompson need a breather, or suffer an injury, Ogunbowale will need to be ready.
The Jaguars undoubtedly didn't foresee losing Armstead to the COVID list again and Ozigbo to IR with a hamstring injury, but they wanted James Robinson to be the feature back the whole time. Should the Jaguars suffer more attrition at the position, things will get dicey. Fortunately, Armstead will likely be back with the team sooner rather than later, and Ozigbo could return from IR after three weeks, so he's not done for the season at this point.
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