Another game, another playmaker lost: Jaguars tight end Dan Arnold goes on injured reserve

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Jaguars' tight end Dan Arnold is gang-tackled by the Atlanta Falcons after making a catch in the second quarter of Sunday's game at TIAA Bank Field. Arnold sprained the MCL in his right knee on the play and was put on the injured reserve list.
Jaguars' tight end Dan Arnold is gang-tackled by the Atlanta Falcons after making a catch in the second quarter of Sunday's game at TIAA Bank Field. Arnold sprained the MCL in his right knee on the play and was put on the injured reserve list.

The Jaguars have lost another offensive playmaker from a small subset to begin with.

Tight end Dan Arnold was placed on injured reserve on Monday after sustaining a Grade 2 MCL sprain to his right knee while catching a 9-yard pass during the second quarter of Sunday's 21-14 loss to Atlanta at TIAA Bank Field.

More: Jaguars remain mistake prone; lineup changes needed

More: Jaguars Up-Down drill: What went right and wrong in 21-14 loss to Atlanta Falcons

While it's not a season-ending injury it will be close: the Jags have only six games left, a stretch that begins on Sunday with a road game against the Los Angeles Rams.

"We're not completely sure," Jags coach Urban Meyer said on Monday when asked if Arnold could return at some point late in the season. "For sure, IR, though."

Arnold led the Jaguars in receiving four times during a six-game stretch before last week's loss to San Francisco, in which he was not targeted. He's third on the team in both receptions (28) and yards (324) but led all active players in yards per catch at 11.6.

Arnold came to the Jaguars on Sept. 27 as part of the trade with the Carolina Panthers that send troubled cornerback C.J. Henderson packing. A third-round draft pick came along with Arnold, who has caught 35 passes for 408 yards for both teams.

The Jaguars were fortunate in that they got James O'Shaughnessy back from an injury against the Falcons. He caught three passes for 29 yards.

The Jags also have Jacob Hollister as a pass-catching tight end. He's been a healthy inactive for the last five games.

Chris Manhertz and rookie Luke Farrell are primarily blockers.

The Jags lost kicker returner/wide receiver Jamal Agnew to a hip injury last week. Before the season, first-round draft pick Travis Etienne, who was counted on to be an offensive weapon in the run and pass game for former Clemson teammate Trevor Lawrence, went out for the year with a foot injury; and wide receiver D.J. Chark played only four games, catching seven passes for 154 yards, two touchdowns and a 22.0 average, before injuring his ankle against Cincinnati and going out for the season.

With those players, the Jags have struggled with team speed on offense, with a lack of separation or deep threat-capability among the receivers. The Jags have only 11 offensive plays from scrimmage that have gone for 20 or more yards in the last five games, while their opponents have 16.

Robinson punished? Not exactly

It's not exactly true that running back James Robinson was exiled to the bench after a fumble in the second quarter that led to Atlanta scoring a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead.

But he didn't get a touch on the remaining 18 offensive plays of the first half for the Jags, after nine runs and a pass reception among the first 18 plays of the game.

Robinson came back in the second half and had 10 running plays, caught two passes for 21 yards (one for a 26-yard gain and the other for a 5-yard loss) and was targeted on another pass on the Jags final possession of the game.

On the whole, it was a normal workload for Robinson: 17 carries for 86 yards and three receptions for 29 yards. Throwing out the first game of the season, in which he had only five carries, and the Seattle game, in which he had four carries in the first quarter before getting injured, Robinson has averaged 15 carries per game and nearly three receptions in the other eight games.

But the social media buzz is that Robinson failed to play for the rest of the first half because of his fumble (his third of the season but the first that was lost to the defense).

Meyer said it was mostly due to the rotation that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and running backs coach Bernie Parmalee have set up with Robinson and Carlos Hyde, and that Robinson may still not be 100 percent after bruising his heel against the Seahawks.

“We just try to rotate," Meyer said. "I just asked that question five minutes ago to get clarity if I get asked. [It’s because of the] rotation and then he’s still not 100 percent. You can see that on perimeter runs and we felt that Carlos [Hyde] had little more juice in his legs.”

But when Meyer was asked if the fumble had anything to do with Robinson missing the last two possessions of the first half -- one that ended in a field goal after the Jags had gotten a first down to the Falcons' 9 -- he said, “A little bit."

"I’m sure Bernie talked to him and Bev ... I did briefly," Meyer said. "But the answer I got was rotation."

Meyer likes the pace

The Jaguars ran 18 offensive snaps at a fast tempo against the Falcons and the results contributed to a productive day on offense, at least by Jaguars 2021 standards.

The Jaguars converted 9 of 16 third-downs (.563, a season-high), had 357 total yards (the most since the Miami game) and 5.0 yards per play.

"You take away the turnover [Lawrence's interception] and penalties ... a lot of positives," Meyer said. "Third down was really good. We did a lot of tempo on third downs ... a little bit more of what [Lawrence] is used to doing, going fast, and the offensive line did a nice job in those situations. We got first downs, so that was a part of it."

Meyer is inclined to give Lawrence a pass on his recent inconsistency because of the injuries at wide receiver and the constant struggle by Bevell to find a combination that works.

"Pass game’s a lot of timing and comfort," Meyer said. "You have a 22-year-old quarterback, and you keep rotating receivers. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just guys get dinged, guys get hurt. We’ve seen a lot of teams play man coverage on us right now, so we have to beat man coverage. That’s a big issue. When we do, we’re really good."

Treadwell trending up

Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell had season highs of four receptions for 53 yards against Atlanta, blocked well as usual and showed a fire on the field that Meyer said will keep earning him snaps.

"I love who he is. I love what he stands for," Meyer said of the former Ole Miss player. "He sticks his face on you and he [works hard]. It’s so nice to see him make that great catch on the sideline ... he’s my kind of guy.

Brown released

That was quick.

The Jaguars released wide receiver John Brown from the practice squad late Monday afternoon. Brown was signed two weeks ago and activated for the games against the 49ers and the Falcon. He was targeted once in each game, without a catch.

Brown is an eight-year veteran and as recently as 2019, had a 1,000-yard receiving season with Buffalo (72 receptions for 1,060 yards.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Another game, another playmaker lost: Jaguars tight end Dan Arnold goes on injured reserve

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