JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars used their second-round draft pick on running back T.J. Yeldon, and it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the former Alabama standout will be the starter.
Coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell have said Gerhart will be used as an H-back at times and Robinson will get work as a kickoff returner, but the Jaguars are still installing new coordinator Greg Olson’s offense and it will be a while before anyone’s role is finalized.
While both players know they’ll likely play different roles than in 2014, they’re not spending any time worrying about how they’ll be used – or if their roster spot is in danger.
"I really don’t think about what’s going on," Robinson said. "I just think about me doing the best I can do and showing what I can and what I’m capable of."
Gerhart is pretty heavily focused on one thing, though: the fact that he’s finally healthy. There was a seven-month stretch when he wasn’t able to say that. He suffered an ankle injury during the 2014 season opener and it lingered throughout his first season with the Jaguars.
He rehabbed his ankle after the season ended and he said it wasn’t until he hit the field for Phase 1 of the offseason conditioning program in April that he felt 100 percent.
"It’s feeling good," said Gerhart, who signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract ($4.5 million guaranteed) in March 2014. "I feel healthy for the first time since last September. Feeling good and excited to go out there and be healthy and fresh this spring and show what I can do and compete."
Gerhart was signed to be the Jaguars’ featured back, but the ankle and a later rib injury limited him to 326 yards rushing on 101 carries. His 3.2 yards per carry was the lowest average of his career, too. That’s certainly not the kind of output he expected.
Now he’s taking some snaps in an H-back role, which is something he’s never done. It’s going to get him more involved in the passing game, which is one of his strengths.
"I’m learning the F [H-back] and running some of that and also taking just as many reps at tailback and competing and just trying to be the best I can be and see what happens," Gerhart said. "A lot of it so far has been a lot of routes and stuff like that, not so much iso downhill, more get me out in the flat, get me in pass pro and get out. It’s exciting to move around and we’ll see what happens."
Robinson did a good job filling in as the Jaguars’ featured back when Gerhart was hurt, and Robinson ended up leading the Jaguars in rushing (582 yards) in his first season as a running back. After a standout career as a spread quarterback at Michigan, the Jaguars tried Robinson in several spots during rookie minicamp and OTAs in 2013. He took snaps at receiver, running back, and quarterback as a rookie before settling in at running back in 2014.
He has made blocking and improving as a receiver out of the backfield his priorities this offseason, but he’s going to get another look as a kick returner. He did that early in his rookie season, averaging 22.0 yards on four returns, but didn’t return any kicks in 2014.
"Anything they ask me to do, I’m doing," Robinson said. "Now I feel more comfortable [returning kicks] than I was my rookie year."
When Caldwell said during the draft weekend that Robinson would be returning kicks, he also made it a point to say he would still have a significant role on offense. Robinson said he hasn’t thought about what that means -- and he won’t, either.
"You just go out there and do yourself," he said. "Do your thing and have fun and get better every day."