James Robinson

AFC East Notes: Robinson, Patriots, Judon

James Robinson was a surprise inactive for the Jets win over the Bears on Sunday. Naturally, the midseason acquisition wasn’t happy to be a healthy scratch.

“Obviously, I didn’t come here not to play,” Robinson told ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “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.”

Robinson was told that he’d be inactive last Wedneday, with the running back stating that he was “upset” with the decision. The 24-year-old was acquired from the Jaguars following the season-ending injury to rookie standout Breece Hall. Robinson had 27 touches for 80 yards and one touchdown in his first three games with the Jets. When asked why he was suddenly replaced in the lineup, Robinson didn’t have an answer.

“I mean, picking up the runs, that’s easy,” he said. “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.”

Running back Zonovan Knight ended up getting the open roster spot, and the rookie had 103 yards from scrimmage in his NFL debut. The Jets could make Robinson an inactive once again this weekend if Michael Carter is able to play through his ankle injury. If Carter can go, he’d join a RB corps that would also include Knight and Ty Johnson. Coach Robert Saleh has acknowledge that the RB room is “a week-to-week thing.”

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • Before Bill Belichick settled on Matt Patricia and Joe Judge to guide his offense, there were whispers that the Patriots could recruit former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. After serving as Alabama’s OC over the past two years, O’Brien has most recently been linked to Georgia Tech’s head coaching vacancy, although Jeff Schultz of The Athletic recently passed along that the coach could prefer to return to the NFL, particularly as New England’s offensive coordinator. For what it’s worth, Belichick said he hasn’t talked to his former assistant about re-joining the organization. “I haven’t talked to Bill in a little while,” Belichick said during an appearance on WEEI (via Mark Daniels of MassLive.com). “So, I don’t know, I wouldn’t really want to comment on his situation. I think that’s something for him to comment on.”
  • The Patriots opened up a chunk of cap space by restructuring Matt Judon‘s contract today, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The move created more than $2MM in cap space for the organization. Judon, who inked a four-year, $56MM deal with the Patriots in 2021, leads the NFL with 13 sacks this season.
  • The two-year extension that linebacker Jahlani Tavai recently inked with the Patriots is technically a three-year pact considering the bump in 2022 money, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Tavai got a raise from $1.15MM to $2MM this season, plus $500K in incentives. The linebacker can earn $1.625MM ($1.15MM guaranteed, $1.958MM cap hit) in 2023 and $1.875MM ($2.158MM cap hit) in 2024. The former Lions second-round pick has started seven of his 11 appearances this season, compiling 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

AFC Notes: Ryan, Jets, Bills, Chargers

Matt Ryan has started each of his 239 appearances (including playoffs) in the NFL, but he’ll find himself behind Sam Ehlinger on the depth chart for Sunday’s game against the Commanders. Despite the sudden change of role, Ryan told Joel E. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star that he hasn’t thought about asking the Colts for a trade.

Ryan is currently dealing with a shoulder issue, and while there’s a chance he’ll be active against Washington, the QB admitted that the injury is significant. Either way, the Colts made it clear that their change atop the QB depth chart would have happened regardless of the veteran’s health. Now, Ryan will likely find himself serving as a backup for the rest of the season.

“That part is different,” Ryan said of his new role. “But I’ve also learned in this league, it’s tough to assume anything. The minute you start to make assumptions about how things are going to shake out, you just never know. For me, No. 1, it’s about getting healthy and getting myself into a position where I’m staying ready.”

Ryan also acknowledged that he was disappointed in his performance through the first seven games. While the Colts are a respectable 3-3-1, the offense has been inconsistent, with Ryan completing 68.4 percent of his passes while tossing nine touchdowns vs. nine interceptions.

“Individually and personally disappointed,” Ryan said. “As a player and a competitor, you want to be out there. You want to go. … It’s part of the deal in this league. You’ve got to produce.”

More notes from around the AFC…

  • After asking for a trade and sitting out Week 7, Elijah Moore has rejoined the Jets, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter). The receiver is expected to be active for Week 8. The 2021 second-round pick has been limited to only 16 catches in six games this season, including zero catches on zero targets in New York’s Week 6 win over the Packers. That empty stat line ultimately prompted Moore’s trade request.
  • Speaking of the Jets, the team made headlines when they acquired running back James Robinson from the Jaguars earlier this week. While Robinson saw a reduced role during his last few games in Jacksonville, it wasn’t necessarily because of an impending trade. Jaguars coach Doug Pederson told reporters that the team wasn’t actively shopping the running back, per ESPN’s Michael DiRocco on Twitter. The Jets initiated trade talks after losing star rookie RB Breece Hall for the season. “I have a ton of respect for James,” Pederson said. “He put himself in a position to help our football team, and now he gets a chance to do that with the Jets and wishing him well.”
  • Tre’Davious White has missed the first chunk of the season while recovering from a torn ACL, but Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier told reporters that the cornerback’s return to the lineup doesn’t appear to be “that far away” (via Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic on Twitter). White returned to practice before Week 6, and his three-week window will soon be coming to an end. While it doesn’t sound like he’ll be active on Sunday night, there’s a good chance he’ll be back for Week 9.
  • Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson had surgery yesterday to repair his patellar tendon, per NFL Network’s Bridget Condon on Twitter. The surgery generally takes around eight to nine months to recover from. The offseason acquisition ruptured the tendon on Sunday, ending his 2022 campaign prematurely.

Jaguars To Trade RB James Robinson To Jets

Hours after learning Breece Hall will be lost for the season, the Jets are making a move to replace him. They are trading for Jaguars running back James Robinson, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

The Jaguars’ rushing leader in 2020 and 2021, Robinson has seen his role reduced due to the rise of 2021 first-rounder Travis Etienne. Robinson will be set to team with 2021 draftee Michael Carter for a 5-2 Jets team. The Jags will acquire a conditional sixth-rounder from the Jets, with ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter adding (via Twitter) the pick could become a fifth.

If Robinson rushes for 260 more yards this season, the pick bumps to a fifth, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. The Jags will receive the higher of the Jets’ two 2023 sixth-rounders. New York obtained a 2023 sixth from Houston for linebacker Blake Cashman in March. That deal could lead to draft compensation for the Texans’ AFC South rivals.

This news comes after Doug Pederson said Robinson was dealing with knee soreness. The Jets will bet on the UDFA success story, despite the Division I-FCS product being less than a year removed from an Achilles tear. Robinson, however, has bounced back from that severe injury. He has amassed 340 rushing yards on 81 carries this season, scoring three touchdowns.

In Robinson, the Jets are acquiring a player who set an NFL record for the most rookie-year scrimmage yards (1,414) accumulated by a UDFA. Robinson did that in just 14 games two seasons ago, being shut down for Jacksonville’s final two contests. After Etienne went down with a Lisfranc injury during the 2021 preseason, Robinson rushed for 767 yards and eight touchdowns. While the December Achilles tear ended Robinson’s second season on a sour note, he still saw his yards-per-carry figure increase from his rookie year (4.5 to 4.7). He is at 4.2 this season.

As a former UDFA, Robinson can be extended at any point. But he can also be kept in 2023 on an RFA tender. This gives the Jets options. For now, however, he stands to join Carter in the team’s post-Hall backfield.

A 2021 fourth-round pick, Carter is averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Carter began the year with a bigger role, but as Hall progressed in Mike LaFleur‘s offense, the North Carolina product became a clear backup option. It will be interesting to see how the Jets deploy Robinson and Carter, but the former has proven far more as an NFLer to this point.

Jacksonville is now committed to Etienne. The Jags played Robinson on just 12 snaps in Week 7, signaling a changing of the guard. The team took Etienne during Urban Meyer‘s one year running the show, doing so after Meyer surprisingly lamented Kadarius Toney being picked just before Etienne became the team’s choice. Etienne is signed through 2024 but can be controlled through 2025 via the fifth-year option. Trevor Lawrence‘s versatile Clemson teammate, Etienne has progressed in his first NFL games. He has totaled 566 scrimmage yards in seven games, scoring his first touchdown as a pro Sunday.

Jaguars RB James Robinson Set To Play In Week 1

The Jaguars faced plenty of injury-related uncertainty with respect to their running backs room this offseason, but there is positive news on that front. It appears the team will have each of their top two backfield options available to start the season. 

When speaking to reporters earlier this week, head coach Doug Pederson said, via Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper, that James Robinson will be in the lineup against the Commanders Week 1. That would represent a return to full health for the 24-year-old along the timeline Jacksonville envisioned.

Robinson suffered a torn Achilles in December, but has made steady progress while recovering this offseason. His return would be a welcomed sight, given his 2,400 scrimmage yards over the first two seasons of his career – a total no one foresaw given his status as a UDFA. That makes him eligible for an extension, though it is unlikely he will see one until after he is back on the field for a sustained period.

The other impediment to a deal for Robinson is, of course, his competition for snaps in the backfield. 2021 first-rounder Travis Etienne is also healthy, after missing his rookie campaign due to a Lisfranc injury. The former Clemson alum and Trevor Lawrence running mate projects as the Jaguars’ lead back and a notable component of the team’s passing game.

Robinson should still see a significant workload in a timeshare, but if Etienne lives up to his draft stock Robinson could understandably be deemed expendable. Jacksonville also drafted Snoop Conner this past April, providing depth in case of injury and a long-term cost-effective backup should Robinson head elsewhere. Much of his future will depend, though, on his 2022 performance, something which should indeed begin this Sunday.

Jags Eyeing Week 1 James Robinson Return

The Jaguars did not place James Robinson on their active/PUP list to start training camp, but coming off a late-December Achilles tear, the third-year running back’s early-season availability has been in question. Doug Pederson is envisioning Robinson being ready to go from the outset.

Robinson made his 2022 debut in team drills this week, per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. The UDFA success story will not play in Jacksonville’s second preseason game, but, in classifying Robinson as “almost there,” Pederson is anticipating a Week 1 re-emergence.

It’s the expectation; it’s kind of the hope that he can be there at that point,” Pederson said of Robinson’s potential Week 1 availability, via Pro Football Talk’s Myles Simmons. “And, listen, if not, it’s OK. We’re comfortable with the guys behind him and we’ll go with what we have.”

Jacksonville having Robinson in uniform in Week 1 would position the team to, at long last, trot out both its top backs in a game. The team played 2021 without first-round pick Travis Etienne. After the Clemson product missed his rookie year, he has not experienced any setbacks in a return from a Lisfranc injury. The Jags also chose Snoop Conner in the fifth round this year.

Cam Akers‘ late-season return last year showed how quickly running backs can surmount Achilles tears, though the Rams back was not exactly himself during his late-season cameo. It has been nearly eight months since Robinson went down. It will be interesting to see Robinson’s 2022 form and how Pederson uses he and Etienne. The former has been the Jaguars’ leading rusher in each of his two years, following up a UDFA rookie-record 1,414 scrimmage yards with a better YPC average (4.7) last season.

Because of his UDFA status, Robinson is already extension-eligible. But the Jaguars are on their third head coach of the Illinois State alum’s career. It would make sense for the team to determine how Robinson fits in Pederson’s offense and see how he looks post-Achilles before proceeding down that road. Robinson, 24, can be kept via ERFA and RFA tenders through 2023.

Injury Updates: Packers, Seahawks, Jaguars, Colts, Giants

Packers second-round wide receiver Christian Watson was placed on the PUP before training camp opened, and ESPN’s Rob Demovsky writes that the rookie could miss a chunk of training camp. Watson continues to recover from minor knee surgery that took place following minicamp.

“I think there was kind of a thought process [of] do you want to try to push through the season and finish this after the (2022) season or should we just go ahead and do it now?” said Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said. “And we just did it now. So he’ll miss a little bit of time in camp, but it’s nothing long term.

“When we invest what we invested in Christian, we’re obviously looking out for the long term. We always do. He’s a young player who’s got a big career ahead of him, so we want to make sure we protect that. It’ll be how he responds through the rehab. As soon as he’s ready, we’ll get him out there.”

The Packers used the No. 34 pick on the rookie wideout. This naturally led to high expectations for the wideout, especially with Davante Adams out of the picture. The rookie has had only three opportunities to practice with Aaron Rodgers, and the wideout will miss out on chances to click with his QB during the early parts of training camp.

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Seahawks safety Jamal Adams underwent left shoulder surgery for the second-straight year, but he also underwent multiple finger surgeries during the offseason. Adams will be sidelined for “some time” while he gets his previously-injured hand checked out, coach Pete Carroll told ESPN’s Brady Henderson (Twitter link). “Yesterday his hand just wasn’t right, so he’s getting some opinions about it,” the coach said.
  • Jaguars running back James Robinson didn’t start training camp on PUP, but he won’t be a full participant right away, tweets ESPN’s Michael DiRocco (on Twitter). The hope is that Robinson will be fully cleared to participate in games by mid-August, meaning he could be active for the start of the regular season. Robinson tore his Achilles in Week 16 of the 2021 campaign, putting his early-season availability in doubt. Meanwhile, DiRocco notes that linebacker Devin Lloyd tweaked his hamstring during a conditioning test and will be sidelined for a few days.
  • Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard (previously Darius Leonard) was placed on PUP following offseason back surgery. The intent of the procedure was to relieve pressure on nerves in his back, and there was hope the surgery would also improve “functionality issues” in his left leg. Fortunately, Leonard said he immediately noticed a positive difference following the operation, and he said he’s focused on his rehab as training camp starts. “I’m not putting a timetable on it, but when I’m ready, you’ll see me on the field after that,” Leonard said (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star). “I’m ready to continue with my rehab, I’m happy with where I’m at right now, and hopefully we’ll continue to go forward with this process.”
  • Giants wideout Sterling Shepard was placed on PUP as he continues to recover from a torn Achilles. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, the goal is for Shepard to be ready for the start of the regular season, but it’s still unclear if the receiver will be ready by then. Offensive lineman Nick Gates is also on PUP as he recovers from a lower-leg fracture suffered last September. Duggan passes along that coach Brian Daboll was “surprisingly optimistic” about the status of the OL, revealing that there’s no guarantee that Gates will be forced to miss any time.

Jaguars Expect James Robinson Clearance During Training Camp

While bigger-picture matters plagued the Jaguars last season, their preferred backfield never took shape. Travis Etienne‘s preseason injury came months before James Robinson‘s Achilles tear, with the latter development clouding Jacksonville’s backfield for 2022 as well.

Etienne participated during the Jags’ OTAs and looks to be a key part of Doug Pederson‘s offense. Robinson is tracking toward being ready for the regular season as well, with Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com noting the Jags expect the third-year back to be cleared during training camp.

Robinson’s re-emergence may take some time after camp starts, opening the door to a potential PUP designation. But a clearance during camp would point to the former UDFA being carried over to the 53-man roster and either being kept active or placed on IR (mandating a four-game absence) to start the season. Fifth-round rookie Snoop Conner looms as insurance here, or perhaps more, for the AFC South franchise.

For his part, Robinson is not setting a timeline. The 23-year-old back has resumed straight-line running, but John Reid of the Florida Times-Union adds it not known when he will begin change-of-direction work. Robinson suffered the Achilles tear in Week 16 (Dec. 26). Cam Akers made it back to action in 5 1/2 months after his 2021 Achilles tear, giving Robinson a reasonable goal. A Week 1 return would give the Division I-FCS success story more than eight months of recovery time.

Although Etienne is a former first-round pick, Robinson staked his starter claim over the past two years. Being perhaps the Jaguars’ brightest spot during a dreadful period, Robinson set an NFL record for scrimmage yards by a rookie UDFA in 2020 (1,414, which he compiled in 14 games) and averaged a career-high 4.7 yards per carry last season. He is already extension-eligible, due to being undrafted, but would likely be better-positioned for a deal next year — assuming his Achilles rehab finishes well.

Latest On Jaguars’ James Robinson

The Jaguars’ running game was a fraction of what it could have been in 2021, considering the tandem of James Robinson and first-rounder Travis Etienne. Injuries dealt a major blow to both of them, and the team’s offense struggled in no small part as a result. 

In Robinson’s case, his season was ended in December by a torn Achilles. With Etienne having been ruled out for his entire rookie season due to a Lisfranc injury months prior, Robinson was still comfortably the team’s leading rusher for the second straight season. He ended up with 989 scrimmage yards and eight rushing touchdowns, despite the missed time due to the injury and a noticeably lower snap share compared to his standout rookie campaign.

However, the timing of the Achilles tear immediately left his Week 1 availability for the 2022 season in doubt. On that point, John Reid of the Florida Times-Union confirms that Robinson is unlikely to be healthy in time for training camp in July, as he continues to rehab his injury. Assuming the former UFDA is indeed unable to participate in camp, there will be understandable questions raised about his ability to return to form upon his return.

Jacksonville is on track to have Etienne in the fold when the season begins, which should allow him to take on the No. 1 role in Robinson’s potential absence. Considering the injury questions surrounding both of them, it came as little surprise when the team also drafted Snoop Conner in the fifth round. Overall, the Jaguars figure to have an improved offense in general and on the ground in particular, but it remains to be seen if their most consistent contributor in recent years will be available right way when the season begins.

Jaguars Looking At OL Ekwonu With Top Pick

We wrote a bit in January about NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu potentially being the best offensive lineman in the draft. Well, he certainly thinks so, as he told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday that he’d “definitely deserve” to be drafted No. 1 overall, according to Darryl Slater of NJ.com

He’s not totally off base in his thinking. ESPN’s Mel Kiper mocked Ekwonu to Jacksonville in his latest mock draft just before the Combine. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, many at the Combine, including ESPN’s Todd McShay, expected Ekwonu to blow up in Indianapolis.

There’s already been a bit of talk connecting Ekwonu to the Jaguars. General manager Trent Baalke has a tendency to prefer explosive linemen and Ekwonu demonstrated his explosiveness in field drills including an impressive sub-5.00 second 40-yard dash. Baalke and new head coach Doug Pederson will be looking to put together a group at offensive line that can protect former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and create holes for running backs James Robinson and Travis Etienne.

Jawaan Taylor is expected to compete with Walker Little for the right tackle job. Captain Brandon Linder should return to form at center after MCL and ankle injuries forced him to miss a large part of the 2021 NFL season. Andrew Norwell is expected to hit the free agent market and Cam Robinson could join him if the team decides not to utilize their franchise tag on Robinson for the second straight year. Veteran sixth-man Tyler Shatley was recently re-signed and Ben Bartch could help out at guard. So the versatility of Ekwonu could line him up as the perfect choice for Jacksonville’s current situation, where lots of question marks surround the depth chart. Even so, the Jaguars could also fall in love with Evan Neal, who is largely seen as the top pure tackle in the draft.

Still, the redshirt sophomore out of Raleigh is a young, talented prospect with the ability to dominate at tackle or guard. Even if he slips past Jacksonville at No. 1 overall, don’t expect him to be available after both New York teams get a chance to draft. Ekwonu will aim to be only the third Wolfpack offensive lineman in history to be picked in the first round, the highest-drafted Wolfpack prospect since Bradley Chubb in 2018, and, above that, the first top overall pick out of NC State since Mario Williams in 2006.

AFC Coaching Notes: Colts, Bills, Jaguars, Ravens

Since Frank Reich was able to land defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to replace Bears’ head coach Matt Eberflus, Bradley has begun the process of putting his staff together. Today Bradley added longtime defensive backs coach Ron Milus to coach his secondary, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Milus first started coaching defensive backs at his alma mater, the University of Washington, about eight years after playing cornerback there. He held the college position for seven years before getting an NFL coaching opportunity in 2000. Since then, Milus hasn’t spent a season out of work with stints in Denver, Arizona, New York (Giants), St. Louis, Carolina, San Diego, and Las Vegas. His longest stint was with the Chargers, spending eight years in southern California and transitioning with the team to Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles that Milus was retained when Bradley joined the Chargers’ staff. He followed Bradley to Las Vegas and will join him once more in Indianapolis.

Here are a few other coaching notes from around the AFC starting with another bit from the Hoosier State:

  • In addition to Milus, Mike Chappell of Fox59 reports that Indianapolis is also in the process of hiring linebackers coach Richard Smith, who worked with Bradley and Milus in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Smith has coached in the NFL since he debuted for the Houston Oilers in 1988 coaching special teams and tight ends. He found his niche as a linebackers coach in 1997 for the 49ers and has had three short stints as a defensive coordinator in Miami, Houston, and Atlanta.
  • ESPN’s Yates also tweeted out a report that the Bills have added former QB Kyle Shurmur on staff in a defensive quality control position. After four years at Vanderbilt, Shurmur signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs, spending time on their practice squad as well as on the Bengals’ and Washington’s practice squads. He was released by Washington a little over a month ago and that appears to mark the end of his playing career. He seems to be following in the footsteps of his father, Pat Shurmur, and joining the coaching track.
  • A castaway from the Matt Nagy Bears’ staff, outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey will not be without work for long as Curtis Crabtree of NBC Sports reports that Shuey is joining Doug Pederson‘s staff in Jacksonville in the same role. Shuey and Pederson had two separate tenures together in Philadelphia.
  • Pederson also made a crucial move of retaining running backs coach Bernie Parmalee. Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network tells us that keeping Parmalee was a priority for Pederson, especially due to his strong relationship with star running back James Robinson.
  • Baltimore has hired Rob Leonard as outside linebackers coach, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley (Twitter). Leonard will replace Drew Wilkins who left to join Brian Daboll‘s staff in New York. Leonard spent the past three seasons in the same position with the Dolphins. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic adds that former Michigan analyst Ryan Osborn will follow Mike Macdonald to the Ravens for a quality control position. Osborn is credited with having a role in the development of Wolverines’ EDGE players like Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.