Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Gus Bradley still intrigued by Robinson
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has seen a different Denard Robinson this offseason.
Not just because the former Michigan standout has gained 15 pounds, either.
Robinson has been around the Jaguars facility for the past few weeks and Bradley says it’s obvious to him that Robinson has a different mindset than when he got to Jacksonville last spring after the Jaguars took him in the fifth round of the draft.
"He is taking a different approach now," Bradley said. "I think he sees it as a tremendous opportunity. He's coming in here and he understands he is a running back, and that's where he's got to get himself ready to go."
The Jaguars drafted Robinson with the intent of making him an "offensive weapon," but that didn’t work out because Robinson had trouble with ball security and surprisingly struggled throwing the ball. The Jaguars moved him to receiver, but that failed, too, again because of his hands. Eventually, Robinson settled at running back.
Robinson rarely saw the field on offense in 2013, carrying the ball just 20 times for 66 yards and misfiring on his only pass attempt. His most infamous play highlighted his biggest weakness: He fumbled at the goal line and the ball rolled through the end zone for a touchback against Buffalo.
Fixing his hands and learning to block are the two issues Robinson needs to fix for 2014, and Bradley believes both can be solved. But if he doesn’t get better with the first, the second will be irrelevant because he won’t get on the field.
"He's aware of it," Bradley said. "When things happen like that in a game, I think it brings great awareness for him. But that's something that he's got to make sure we gain enough trust to put him in those situations."
Robinson’s play on special teams should help with his blocking, Bradley said, because he can transfer some of the fundamentals he learned.
Bradley is intrigued by what Robinson could do as a running back. Robinson left Michigan as the NCAA’s all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback (4,495) and he’s a dynamic open-field runner. But it’s unclear where Robinson fits in the backfield rotation. The team signed Toby Gerhart last month to be the No. 1 back. Jordan Todman was the Jaguars’ second-leading rusher last season (256 yards) and ran for 109 yards in his only start.
That doesn’t leave much opportunity for Robinson, especially if he continues to have issues with his hands, but Bradley says Robinson could eventually develop into a first- and second-down back.