Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Denard Robinson finally has a home
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars' experiment with Denard Robinson at running back is over.
It's now permanent.
The rookie fifth-round draft pick has been promoted to No. 2 on the running back depth chart behind Maurice Jones-Drew, finally giving him a home after he spent most of the first half of the season working at receiver and wildcat quarterback.
"It's good," Robinson said Wednesday. "But wherever they put me, I'm good. I'm focused on doing the things the coaches are asking me to do."
Robinson has leap-frogged first-year player Jordan Todman and sixth-year veteran Justin Forsett not because of anything those two players didn't do, but mainly because the coaching staff wanted to see what he could do as a running back. He's had six carries for 26 yards in the last three games.
"I don't know if there was truly a competition where Denard Robinson passed both of those guys but I think he did put together two good weeks of practice where we said, let's take a look at him," head coach Gus Bradley said. "That's why you're seeing him get reps, and there are not enough reps to go around sometimes."
Robinson was hardly getting any reps anywhere early in the season, playing just 13 snaps in the first four games. That was mainly because the staff wasn't sure what to do with him.
He has had trouble holding onto the ball, which he showed by fumbling a faked handoff when lined up as a wildcat quarterback against Seattle. He also dropped a screen pass against Indianapolis. He didn't throw the ball well in training camp, either. He was an average passer at Michigan, completing 57 percent of his passes for 6,250 yards and 49 touchdowns with 39 interceptions, and his throws in camp were inaccurate.
Robinson is a pretty good open-field runner, but there wasn't enough trust to throw him the ball. He could just take a shotgun snap in the wildcat and run the ball, a throw-back to single-wing football, but that negates the element of deception that the read-option needs.
The only other way to get Robinson the ball was by lining him up at running back, which the Jaguars did for the first time Oct. 13 against Denver. The Jaguars have liked what they've seen in the past three games.
"Denard has been doing a great job," Jones-Drew said. "He's been working hard. He's had some great runs against San Francisco. So we tried getting him more opportunities to help us move the ball and score touchdowns. He gives us another weapon.
"He gives us a mismatch. He's faster than probably every linebacker in the league. He's stronger than most corners and safeties, and he gives us a weapon that we can use anywhere on the field: outside, in the slot, at the running back position.
"He gets a great opportunity this week to go out there and show it."