After DNP, Jets RB James Robinson 'upset,' wonders how he fits

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets running back James Robinson, who figured to be a key piece on offense after arriving last month in a trade, was a healthy scratch last Sunday -- and he's upset.

"Obviously, I didn't come here not to play," Robinson told ESPN on Wednesday. "Obviously, they brought me here for a reason. I don't expect anything unless I work for it, and I've been working my ass off. Me not playing pisses me off."

Looking for more production, coach Robert Saleh replaced Robinson with rookie Zonovan Knight, who recorded 103 yards from scrimmage in his debut -- a 31-10 win over the Chicago Bears.

Robinson said he was informed last Wednesday by running backs coach Taylor Embree that he would be inactive against the Bears.

"Obviously, I was upset about it," he said. "I don't know what they have planned for me."

On Oct. 24, the Jets acquired Robinson from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2023 conditional sixth-round pick -- one day after losing starter Breece Hall to a season-ending knee injury. In three games, Robinson has rushed for only 75 yards on 25 carries. He scored a touchdown on one of his two receptions.

As part of the trade agreement, the draft pick improves to a fifth rounder if Robinson's rushing total for 2022 reaches 600 yards. Currently, he's at 415 yards.

Robinson played his best game with the Jets in a Week 9 win over the Buffalo Bills (13 carries for 48 yards and a receiving touchdown). The offense bottomed out in the next game, a loss to the New England Patriots. He was held to 10 yards on seven carries.

Explaining the change, Saleh said there was "a lot of meat on the bone in the run game" over the past few weeks. He said Robinson still is getting comfortable in their zone-based scheme and wanted to give Knight a chance in the rotation, adding that "no one has seen the last of" Robinson.

Robinson doesn't believe he's having problems with the new system, which requires a one-cut runner who can accelerate quickly upfield.

"I mean, picking up the runs, that's easy," said Robinson, a 1,070-yard rusher for Jacksonville in 2020. "The thing is getting used to the pass game, protections and I feel like I've picked up that stuff up pretty good.

"You probably have to ask them what their game plan is for me. I'd do the same, but obviously I'm going to continue to work my ass off. I can't go in there begging. They can see what I do on the field."

Robinson, who said he's uncertain of his status this week, could be inactive again Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. It could depend on Michael Carter, who missed practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle.

Saleh said he's hopeful Carter will play. In that case, they could go with the same three as last week -- Carter, Knight and Ty Johnson, who rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown against Chicago.

"With that entire running-back room, it's going to be a week-to-week thing," Saleh said.