Jaguars running back Denard Robinson solidifies starting job with another 100-yard game

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida — The Jacksonville Jaguars were reluctant to name Denard Robinson their starting running back after his first 100-yard game and touchdown a week ago.

It should be much easier after another strong performance.

Robinson ran 18 times for 108 yards in Sunday's 27-13 loss to Miami, becoming the team's first player to top the century mark in consecutive weeks since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2011.

"Whenever I get the opportunity, I think I'm capable of getting 100 yards in a game," Robinson said Monday. "The offense is coming together and we're working more efficiently as a unit. If I can get around 20 carries a game, I feel I can be over 100 yards."

Robinson had 11 carries for 90 yards at halftime against the Dolphins, but once Blake Bortles threw a second interception that was returned for a touchdown, the Jaguars (1-7) were chasing 14 points and unable to stick with the running game.

Still, the former Michigan quarterback did enough to warrant a third consecutive start Sunday against Cincinnati.

"You can see how we've improved," Robinson said. "I'm getting use to their blocking and they're getting use to my style. ... It's a matter of having good communication with your guys up front. We'll continue to work together and know each other's tendencies."

Coach Gus Bradley started feeling sick Sunday night and was unable to make it into the facility Monday. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch filled in and said Robinson is "getting more and more comfortable playing the position."

"He understands what it requires, the commitment, both on the field and off the field," Fisch said. "And his vision has improved."

Robinson has been a work in progress since the Jaguars selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft.

They initially wanted to make him a returner and a receiver — as well as line him up in wildcat formations — but ball security was an issue during his rookie season.

Part of the problem was that Robinson was still trying to regain feeling in his right hand that stemmed from an injury at Michigan during his senior year. Robinson was stepped on just about his elbow, and the nerve went dead due to the bruise and caused a loss of feeling in his pinkie and ring finger.

Making matters worse after he got to Jacksonville, he sliced open his right hand while cutting potatoes and needed 10 stiches. That made getting a grip on the football even tougher.

All of that eventually healed, and Robinson's ball security issues disappeared.

Maybe more important to his success was settling in at one position, running back.

"Last year, he was still learning the position from square one," Fisch said. "For the most part, I think he's learning the position as he goes. We've been seeing him get better and better at it."

With Jacksonville starting as many as six rookies on offense, the offensive growing pains have been evident on a weekly basis. But an offensive line that has two rookies and two second-year players is starting to jell, and Robinson is learning the nuances of running in a zone-blocking scheme.

"It's nice to see the running game getting better," guard Brandon Linder said. "He's a talented athlete and a great team player. He brings it on every play and is very confident in the way he runs. That's Denard. He makes things happen. He's a very talented player. It's nice to be able to block for him and see the outcome he gets on a play and the success that he's had the past couple of games.

"Hopefully we can keep those types of results going the rest of the season."


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