In an interview with Pro Football Talk back in February, James Robinson shared his ambition to improve his overall speed this offseason.
Hearing a young running back that just set that NFL record for rushing yards by an undrafted free agent express a desire to improve during his first real NFL offseason is more than enough to get me fired up. Robinson carried the ball 240 times for 1,070 yards and caught 49 passes for an additional 344 yards to go along with ten total touchdowns in 14 games as a rookie in 2020. Despite the chaos that surrounded him on the first one-win team in franchise history, he was a model of consistency.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that even after setting NFL records, James Robinson wants to grow as a runner. Hard work is all Robinson knows. As a small school running back, he's had to scratch and claw his way to the position he's currently in — a starting running back in the NFL.
Robinson displayed excellent vision and contact balance in 2020, but he admittedly isn't the fastest running back on the planet. He set out to change that this offseason, and thanks to some advice from his new head coach Urban Meyer, Robinson believes he has gotten faster heading into his second year as a pro.
Last Thursday, I asked Robinson if he'd achieved his goal of getting faster this spring.
Robinson responded: "First couple of practices, I was able to open up and feel pretty fast."
I followed up by asking what drills he focused on to help improve his overall speed.
"Just a lot of knee drive," Robinson shared. "Urban Meyer when he first came in, he was talking about my knee drive. Ever since March, when I come into the stadium, that's all I've been working on really."
According to Runners' World, knee drive is an area that runners focus on to create more force. "The knee drive, which is coordinated with the push-off, supplies additional forward momentum. In the knee drive, the thigh is driven forward from a position behind the body to in front of the body. The height of the thigh at the end of the drive phase is determined by the force generated by the hip flexor muscles."
Urban Meyer's presence seems to be already paying dividends when it comes to player development. Robinson isn't the only Jaguar that has seen physical improvements this offseason. Fourth-year wide receiver DJ Chark has undergone a bit of a body transformation himself.
If James Robinson, who averaged 4.5 yards per carry on a bad offense in 2020, can see his offseason speed work carry over to the playing field on Sundays this fall, he could develop into one of the very best backs in football. Having a revamped offensive system led by Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell — and Trevor Lawrence next to him in the backfield — should help Robinson continue on his upward trajectory.
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