In the NFL, injuries are bound to happen.
Heading into Week 2 of the 2020 regular season, 15 players were placed on injured reserve with Achilles injuries alone.
But when an injury happens before the regular season even starts, it can be particularly devastating.
Teams are now forced to change their entire gameplan.
What they wanted to do offensively or defensively may not be possible anymore.
As we enter the 2021 NFL season, the injury bug has come to bite quite a few franchises.
These three have already suffered season-ending injuries that have put their team in rough waters with just one week of the preseason remaining.
3. Cam Akers
After being selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Cam Akers rushed 145 times for 625 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.
He appeared in 13 games and started five for the Los Angeles Rams.
Akers really came on at the end of the season and locked himself in as the team’s starting running back of the future.
While he didn’t play Week 15, he received 86 total carries over the last five weeks of the season.
Entering the 2021 season, he looked poised to reclaim his spot as the Rams starting running back.
However, he suffered a torn Achilles early in training camp and is now expected to miss the entire season.
#Rams RB Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles while training, per source.
Brutal blow for L.A., which loses its leading rusher from last season a week before camp begins.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 20, 2021
Now, the Rams are poised to go with Darrell Henderson as their starting running back.
They ruled out bringing in a veteran following Akers injury and have followed suit thus far.
Henderson has been with the Rams for the past two seasons, appearing in 28 games and starting 11.
He has rushed 117 times for 771 yards and five touchdowns.
Entering his age-24 season, Henderson will have an opportunity to shine.
Whether he takes the reins and proves he can be Los Angeles’ starting running back is one thing.
Where that leaves Akers on the depth chart going forward is another.
2. Carl Lawson
The New York Jets entered the 2021 season in desperate need of an improved pass rush.
Last season, the Jets mustered up just 31 sacks, good for 21st in the NFL.
To remedy their problem, New York brought in Carl Lawson on a three-year, $45 million contract.
Lawson spent the first four years of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 51 games and 14 starts, Lawson made 81 total tackles, 83 quarterback hits, 20 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Last season, Lawson finished with the fourth-most pressures in the league at 64 and played a career high 68 percent of snaps.
He was expected to be an immediate starter with the Jets and play a crucial role on their defense.
Until he suffered an Achilles injury that will sideline him for the entire season.
It is a ruptured Achilles for Lawson.
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) August 19, 2021
Now, reports state that New York is scouring the trade market for Lawson’s replacement.
After losing Carl Lawson to a season-ending torn Achilles, the Jets now are looking for ways to acquire a pass rusher to help fill the void, per sources. A trade before the season is being explored.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 22, 2021
Blair didn’t play last season while Franklin-Myers mustered three sacks.
Whether New York actually trades for an edge rusher is still up in the air.
But losing Lawson, a young player on the rise, is a massive blow for the Jets defense.
1. Travis Etienne
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Travis Etienne with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
He was expected to serve as the team’s pass-catching back out of the backfield.
That was until he suffered a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve and ended his season.
Jaguars officially placed RB Travis Etienne Jr. on injured reserve.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 24, 2021
As a first-round pick, Etienne was expected to play a large role in the offense.
He rushed for 4,952 and 70 touchdowns and caught 102 passes for 1,115 yards and eight additional scores in four years at Clemson.
He was teammates with new Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
While he should be back in time for next year’s offseason program, missing his rookie season puts his development on a major hold.
Furthermore, now Jacksonville must completely change their offensive plans.
They do have sophomore runner James Robinson.
He burst onto the scene last year, rushing for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns while catching 49 passes for 344 yards and three scores.
Robinson should have no problem back in the starter’s role.
However, losing Etienne means Jacksonville won’t have one of their key offensive pieces the entire offseason.
As Lawrence and head coach Urban Meyer look to make a good impression with the Jaguars, losing Etienne is not the best first step.