Now healthy, Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson uses OTAs to show off progress
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars wrapped up their organized team activities Thursday with one player standing out the most in the mind of coach Gus Bradley among the 89 in attendance.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson, whose rookie season was cut short by a stress fracture in his right foot, remained limited in what he could do when OTAs began three weeks ago. By this week, however, he was making leaping catches during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, which made it appear he had never gotten injured in the first place.
Bradley also mentioned another rookie from a year ago, linebacker Telvin Smith, as well as cornerback Dwayne Gratz, whose second season with the Jaguars was largely one to forget until he returned an interception for a touchdown in the final week at Houston.
"I like the progress of a lot of those guys," he said. "But I would say Allen Robinson has really stood out."
A second-round pick a year ago out of Penn State, Robinson caught at least four passes in nine consecutive games after hamstring injuries had sidelined him for most of last summer. His 48 receptions for 548 yards were the highest in both categories among the Jaguars' receivers at the time of his injury, which occurred during their loss to the Dallas Cowboys in London.
He was placed on injured reserve Nov. 17 and underwent surgery five days later.
"This is probably the best I've felt, as far as physically," Robinson said. "I can still improve my conditioning, but as far as body-wise, I felt pretty good."
Between Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee, the Jaguars had three rookies who combined for 136 catches and nine of the team's 15 receiving touchdowns. Hurns, who was undrafted out of the University of Miami, appears to be picking up where he left off. But the Jaguars held Lee, who was taken in the second round ahead of Robinson, out of OTAs because of concerns over a knee injury which Bradley believes will also keep the former USC star sidelined next week during a mandatory minicamp for veterans.
The native of the Detroit area was healthy enough in April to throw out the first pitch before a Tigers home (HYPERLINK: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20150409/olsm-grad-jaguars-wr-allen-robinson-throws-out-1st-pitch-at-tigers-game) but spent most of his time before that off his feet.
"I was watching a lot of film, just trying to get my mind right and get stuff right so when I came back, everything would be second nature," Robinson said.
What he learned was that he needed to improve his release following the snap of the ball. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Robinson said he is also stronger in his upper body this year, which should make him able to compete better for contested passes.
"First you have to get off the ball before you can catch the ball," he said. "My main thing is getting off the ball explosively and quickly so I can get into my route."
As for his leaping ability against Gratz and other cornerbacks, Robinson was modest in his self-assessment.
"It's maybe something you're noticing a little bit more," he said. "I'm just going out there and trying to make plays for my team."
Tight end Julius Thomas, the most noteworthy offseason addition by far to the Jaguars' group of receivers, did not participate Thursday because of what the team described as tightness in his leg. Another free-agent signing, cornerback Davon House, was held out due to abdominal tightness.
Both are expected to be ready Tuesday for a minicamp where the only drama of note is whether defensive end Chris Clemons, the oldest member of the Jaguars at age 33, will report on time after missing OTAs.
"We still have a long ways to go," Bradley said. "But their mentality, their attitude, how we practiced day after day, their position groups, the players, the coaches -- there's a lot of things to be excited about."