On the same day the Jacksonville Jaguars announced there would be a change at starting quarterback, the team also let it known they will be without their top weapon in Week 16 against the Chicago Bears.
Rookie running back James Robinson has been nursing an injured left ankle all week and despite early optimism that he would play against the Bears, he has now officially been ruled out.
Robinson played 36 snaps in a 40-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15 before leaving the game with an ankle injury with 9:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Robinson rushed 16 times for 35 yards (2.2 yards per carry) and caught three passes for 18 yards and a touchdown before his injury.
Robinson missed every day of practice this week with the ankle injury. The undrafted rookie from Illinois State had been pushing to play this week, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said on Wednesday, but the Jaguars will instead rest their star rookie.
"James, what we are going to do is we are going to rest him [Wednesday], I think, and be cautious with him," Marrone said Wednesday. "But obviously he has already said he wants to play and feels like he will play. That is him speaking."
Robinson has carried the ball 240 times for 1,070 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns, along with 49 catches for 344 yards (7.0 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.
Robinson currently ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing attempts and yards from scrimmage, third in rushing yards, and fifth in rushing yards per game. Without him, the Jaguars will have to lean on journeyman veteran Dare Ogunbowale and second-year running back Devine Ozigbo, who has not recorded a carry this season.
"It’s the case in every position, but it’s very critical that D.O. [Dare Ogunbowale] gets some good reps. He had a good run the other day on the draw and he’s done some good things in the passing game as far as protections. Now, we just have to put more on his plate," Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said on Wednesday.
"I think he’s up to the challenge. He’s been at a couple different teams. I had him at Washington, he’s been at Tampa, so he’s an experienced kid that plays hard and is very smart and fundamentally sound. I think given the opportunity, he’ll be ready. And Ziggy [Devine Ozigbo], he’ll be ready to go too. Every time he’s touched the ball so far, he’s shown some explosion. We probably have to get him the ball a little bit more.”
Jacksonville will now be without both their starting running back and quarterback from Week 1; Robinson with the injury, and Gardner Minshew's absence is the result of being benched for Mike Glennon this week.
In Week 14, Robinson became the fourth undrafted rookie in NFL history to total at least 1,000 rushing yards, and the fastest to do so. Robinson is the third rookie running back in Jaguars history to total 1,000 yards in a season and the fourth running back overall in franchise history to rush for 1,000-plus yards. Robinson’s 1,361 scrimmage yards through 13 games were the most by an undrafted rookie in NFL history through that many career games.