Robinson not phased by lack of receptions
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Laurent Robinson is trying to stay positive.
It’s not easy since he has just one reception for 7 yards in three preseason games and seems to be quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s second or third option. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Robinson to a five-year contract worth $32.5 million in March. The deal will pay him $11.1 million this season.
So everyone expects more from the former Dallas Cowboys receiver.
“I’m trying to just keep a positive attitude,” said Robinson, who drew a pass interference call on the only deep ball thrown his way. “Pass interference calls are good, but I still want the catch and I got to try to fight through the contact and make the play. So there’s still room to grow, and I still got to get better.”
Coach Mike Mularkey, who spent a year with Robinson in Atlanta, blamed the lack of production on coverage.
“Some of it has been the routes have been taken away,” Mularkey said. “Maybe it’s been the pressed one-on-one that we have to do a better job with Laurent. We want the numbers to be greater. Not all balls are called to a guy and they go to them. Sometimes they are in a progression and they don’t go to him. But he has done some things positively in games that I can tell you.
“I think the production will go up. I know he will like to see it go up. It will help us control the ball more if we can get it in his hands, but again I think we’re OK right now.”
But the Jaguars (No. 31 in the AP Pro32) aren’t likely to see much from Robinson in Thursday night’s preseason finale against Atlanta. Mularkey said his starters will play, at most, a quarter.
“I only have one catch in the preseason and it’s pretty obvious to see, but it’s still early,” Robinson said. “Hopefully we can get some catches under my belt and then head into the regular season. I’ve had a lot of catches during the season, so it’s not really affecting me at all.”
Robinson was Jacksonville’s top free agent, a move the team hoped would give it a true No. 1 receiver for the first time since Jimmy Smith retired in 2006.
The 27-year-old Robinson caught 54 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, a breakout year for a guy who was cut in training camp by San Diego and waived again after a week in Dallas. The Cowboys re-signed him a week later.
Mularkey and general manager Gene Smith targeted Robinson from the start of free agency. Robinson’s value seemed to skyrocket when several top free-agent receivers went off the market, including Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon.
The Jaguars desperately needed someone to pair with Gabbert, but many will wonder if Jacksonville overpaid for a receiver with 143 career catches and 15 touchdowns.
A month after signing Robinson, the Jaguars selected Justin Blackmon with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft. Blackmon missed part of training camp because of a contract holdout and sat out the preseason opener. In two exhibition games since, the former Oklahoma State star has eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Those are the kind of numbers many expected from Robinson. But Robinson and the Jaguars believe it’s only a matter of time before he starts showing up in box score.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Robinson said. “It’s always going to be like that, and we just got to keep working and keep getting better.”