JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) It’s been nearly a decade since the Jacksonville Jaguars had a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Mike Sims-Walker, Jerry Porter, Laurent Robinson, Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon all tried and failed to fill the role left vacant when Jimmy Smith abruptly retired after the 2005 season.
Whether it was due to injury or suspension, none of them came close to becoming a go-to guy.
Now it’s Allen Robinson’s turn.
And if Sunday’s 23-20 win against Miami was any indication, the second-year pro from Penn State looks more than ready to fill the void.
”I expect myself to have big games,” he said.
Robinson caught six passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins. His performance surprised few in Jacksonville. After all, Robinson was on pace to break Blackmon’s franchise record for receptions by a rookie last year before breaking his right foot and missing the final six games.
He finished with 48 receptions for 548 yards and two touchdowns. He was even more impressive during organized team activities, training camp and the preseason.
He repeatedly stunned the Dolphins, who looked lost every time the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Robinson out-jumped cornerbacks, outran safeties and outmaneuvered everyone lined up across from him.
He made leaping catches, the first over Brent Grimes for 36 yards and another over Brice McCain for 52 more. He caught a quick slant for a 3-yard touchdown that got tipped at the line of scrimmage. He burned safety Walt Aikens with a double move for 46-yard score. He made a diving grab early in the second half that showed great hands and even better body control.
Robinson pretty much did it all.
”He was awesome,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. ”He has the ability to do that every week. He is a big, physical player with unbelievable playmaking skills. When he sets his mind to it, he can go up and catch any ball.”
Now, Jaguars coach Gus Bradley wants to see Robinson handle prosperity the same way he did adversity.
”You have to have enough humility to identify your weaknesses and grow from it and let’s move on, so that’s the challenge for us all,” Bradley said Monday. ”I think we identified how we can respond to adversity. Now how do we respond to prosperity? That will be the challenge this week.”
Robinson gets a chance to back up his performance Sunday at New England (2-0), which has won six in a row against Jacksonville.
”It’s exciting to me, but like I said before, we have to have a quick memory,” Robinson said. ”Whether you have a great game or a bad game, you have to have a quick memory. You enjoy it and then you bounce back on Monday as a new week.”
Jacksonville selected Robinson with the 61st overall pick in the 2014 draft, with hopes that he could become the team’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Smith in 2005.
Robinson struggled with injuries as a rookie and never really found his niche on the field. Bradley stressed to Robinson in the offseason to ”play angry” and use his 40-plus-inch vertical jump to come down with 50-50 balls.
Robinson welcomed the challenge.
”I want to be more of a big-play asset to my team,” Robinson said. ”I caught some short routes, some third-down stuff last year. But I really want to have that big-play capability.”
His performance against Miami was a good start.
”You have to adapt your game to the NFL style,” he said. ”This year, I know what to expect. I know where I had my success last year and I also know my weaknesses. I’m just hoping to build on both.”
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