Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Breakout candidate: Khiry Robinson
By Mike Triplett
METAIRIE, La. -- Even if tailback Khiry Robinson just picks up where he left off at the end of last season, he's due for a monster year with the New Orleans Saints.
In theory, however, Robinson should be even better in 2014 now that he has had a full year to develop as a pro. Last year, he was a raw undrafted rookie from West Texas A&M who admitted last week that he was "basically just running, hoping I went the right way."
Robinson certainly did, racking up 152 yards and a touchdown over the final three games of last season on a total of 33 carries (4.6 yards per carry).
Saints coach Sean Payton started feeding the 6-foot, 220-pounder more during the playoffs after veteran Pierre Thomas was injured. And Payton famously revealed that his mentor, Bill Parcells, compared Robinson to Hall of Famer Curtis Martin and insisted that Payton needed to use him more.
Now, Robinson is hoping to build off that success while also becoming a more well-rounded back capable of catching passes and being trusted in pass protection.
"He is someone obviously that has more confidence now," Payton said last week during the Saints' first week of organized team activities. "You see him, just from an assignment standpoint, understanding the protections much quicker. That took a while for him last year. I think (with) a year under his belt, the overall understanding of all the things he needs to do at the running back position is a lot better. …
"He is a lot further along than he was this time last year."
Of course, expectations need to be tempered heading into this year. Robinson is still stuck in a timeshare with two other veteran running backs the Saints like a lot -- Thomas and Mark Ingram.
However, it's likely all three of those runners will get a few more touches this season, with Ingram and Robinson possibly even seeing more snaps in passing formations now that Darren Sproles has been traded away.
"There were opportunities before (Sproles left)," Robinson said, according to The Advocate. "I can't worry about ... who's gone, who's here now. My main focus is just to do what I'm supposed to, and everything else will fall in place."
For more on Robinson's approach this offseason, check out this feature story by The Advocate's Ramon Antonio Vargas.
And click here for my Monday update on the Saints' top defensive breakout candidate -- defensive end Akiem Hicks.