John Raoux/Associated Press
The Jaguars are in unfamiliar territory this year at the running back position as they waved goodbye to three-time All Pro Maurice Jones-Drew and welcomed in free agent Toby Gerhart. While the focus will be on Gerhart, another running back is feeling the pressure to perform and stake his claim on this team.
Denard Robinson was an electric quarterback for Michigan in college and ended up as a fifth-round pick for Jacksonville in 2013. Robinson had a lot of expectations due to his athleticism and was labeled "OW" (offensive weapon) due to the versatility he was expected to bring. Unfortunately, he ended his rookie year with just 20 carries for 66 yards, including a 24-yard run ending in a fumble at the 1-yard line.
Since the end of the season, it has been revealed that Robinson was suffering from nerve damage to his arm following a hit to his elbow in the 2012 season against Nebraska. According to Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union (h/t Big Cat Country), Robinson had trouble keeping his hand open, impacting his ability to carry and catch the ball. O'Halloran disclosed some of the details of the injury, saying:
He didn’t have full strength in his hand and he couldn’t keep it open....
With nerves, you never know when they’re going to re-generate – it could be a day, two days, a year, two years, three years. With the time off this off-season and a lot of work, it came back for him.
He has completely healed from his injury and will now be focusing on just learning the running back position. This is a move that should significantly help him take advantage of his incredible combination of speed and agility.
He must be able to break away from the rest of the running backs, which include Jordan Todman and seventh-round rookie Storm Johnson, in order to establish himself as the No. 2 running back on the roster. The main way he can do this is to show that his turnover issues are a thing of the past now that his arm is healed. If he can do this, there is no telling what the combination of him and Gerhart could do to opposing defenses.