James Robinson, the undrafted rookie the team opted to keep over the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, ran for 102 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 18 yards in the Jaguars’ 33-30 loss at Tennessee on Sunday. He now has 164 yards on the ground this season, the most by a player in franchise history through his first two games.
Unlike in the season opener, when Robinson had a good first half but was stymied in the second against Indianapolis, Robinson went off in the second half against the Titans. He ran for 85 yards on 10 carries, which included a 17-yard touchdown run.
He also had a 39-yard run late in the third quarter that set up one of Gardner Minshew’s three TD passes.
“What you guys are seeing now is probably what I’ve been seeing all of camp,” coach Doug Marrone said. “Just a real steady, good football player. If there’s something there, he’s going to find it. He’s not going to make mistakes and lose yardage for you, and [he’s going to] try to keep the chains going. He’s a tough runner.
“He’s got a little burst getting through the second level. I was happy to see him take that one to the end zone.”
That was the first rushing touchdown of Robinson’s career and there are sure to be many more, because what he did against the Titans removed any doubt that he can be the Jaguars’ featured back. Marrone said in the days after Fournette’s release that the plan was to go with a committee approach, but that fell apart after Ryquell Armstead landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list for the second time (he also battled a groin injury and another illness in camp) and Devine Ozigbo went on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
The Jaguars signed Dare Ogunbowale the Tuesday before the season opener, but he was inactive against Indianapolis. He was active against the Titans but didn’t get a snap on offense. It appears the only player other than Robinson who will get more than a handful of carries is rookie receiver Laviska Shenault. The Jaguars move him around a bit, and he had five carries out of the backfield Sunday.
Robinson has a good chance to follow up Sunday’s performance with another big one Thursday against Miami. The Dolphins have given up 328 rushing yards in their first two games.
“He makes blocking fun,” receiver DJ Chark said. “Because you’re blocking for two, three seconds and you see him running by you. It makes you want to go out there and get you a pancake [block] or something.”