I had a chance to talk to Jacksonville Jaguars running back Denard Robinson earlier today as part of a promotion with P&G and Publix, and we had a chance to discuss his first couple of years in the league, his emergence as a starting running back, Blake Bortles, and the upcoming draft. Here’s a summary of the interview below:
Hey Denard, it’s great to meet you and talk to you today, I hope your offseason is going well and you’re getting a little bit of time to relax before the grind of offseason activities and training camp.
Let’s talk today a little about your first couple years in the league, the upcoming draft, and your involvement with P&G and Publix.
- You had a pretty tumultuous rookie year, coming out of Michigan as a quarterback and going through the entire pre-draft process as a running back/wide receiver. How has that position switch gone for you, and do you feel like a pure running back at this point?
"Denard: I really think I’m starting to become a pure running back… I played quarterback my whole life so it was kind of tough, but I had people around me to help me out… the coaches really helped me out and kept me on the straight and narrow. They helped me learn the position and how to be a pro, and then in that second year it helped that I was able to learn from guys like Mojo, [Justin] Forsett, [Jordan] Todman, Toby Gerhart and coach [Terry] Richardson, all those guys helped me become a better running back since I never played it before."
- It came out after your rookie season that you were dealing with a pretty tough nerve injury in your hand and it ultimately limited your playing time. Did you feel like you were at full strength last year, and were you at all surprised with how big a workload you received once you became the starter last season?
"Denard: At first the hand problem was a big deal, I couldn’t catch the ball how I wanted to catch it and I couldn’t throw it with how I was holding it, so that was tough for me. So I started working on it and getting strength back in my hand, then in my second year I had more strength than I had before, it wasn’t numb anymore and that started to wear off a little bit. Now it’s just about getting strength back in that hand and getting better with it.[That workload] at the middle of the season was good, the offensive line came on and we came on as a team, we started working well together as a team and it was good man."
Oct 19, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Denard Robinson (16) receives a hug from Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley following Robinson
Your breakout game last year couldn’t have come at a better time, as you were really the key to clinching the Jaguars’ first win of the season against the Cleveland Browns in week 7. How big of a moment was that for you?
"Denard: It wasn’t a big moment for me, it was more for the team. It came at a point when we were winless and we kept fighting and we didn’t let go, we didn’t stop. We kept going and fighting and it showed us that our hard work was starting to pay off."
- Alright, before we talk about the draft, we always have to talk a little bit about the quarterback. What can you tell us about Blake Bortles? What kind of leadership role has he taken since being drafted and taking over as the starter?
"Denard: He’s always been a leader, as soon as he came in the room everyone knew he had a chance to be the starter and he was going to be one the guys. On the field he started making the guys feel more relaxed in the huddle and making sure they knew he had control and he could be the captain of the team. He kept going and learned a lot from Chad [Henne] and just kept taking on that role as a leader. You could tell the way he demanded the huddle and you could see the way he was growing."
- Let’s go ahead and talk about the draft a little bit. A lot of the talk surrounding the Jaguars and the third overall pick has focused on the defensive line. Which side of the ball do you see the Jaguars addressing at the top of the first round?
"Denard: I really don’t know, it’s up in the air. Dave and Gus are going to make a great decision, you know, what’s best for the team. Hopefully they pick a person who’s ready to go and work hard."
- Some fans are emphasizing selecting one of the top running backs early in the draft, either by trading down in the first round or seeing who’s available at the top of the second round. With Toby Gerhart and Storm Johnson currently accompanying you in the backfield, how would you feel about the Jaguars bringing in one of the top running back prospects? Have you watched any of those guys at the top of the draft? (Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Jay Ajayi…)
"Denard: Yeah I watched Melvin Gordon since he played at Wisconsin, and he can run the ball well. I watched Todd Gurley a lot and he’s a great running back, there’s a lot of tough running backs out there. If we can get a guy who can run the ball and do the things they can do that would be good, we’ll see what they do."
- You’ve partnered with P&G and Publix ahead of this year’s NFL Draft, can you tell us about what you have going on there?
"Denard: I’m trying to help out and let people know that P&G and Publix can be the solution to all your household needs. I know I use most of their stuff, and I go to Publix all the time. I like going to the deli, getting a Publix sub, the chicken tender sub is my favorite thing to get from there. We’re just trying to promote it and have some people win the sweepstakes, get the word out there about P&G and Publix."
- Alright before we end, I have to ask – who do you think the Jaguars are taking with the third pick in the draft?
"Denard: I really don’t know, a lot of people are talking about [Dante] Fowler out of Florida so they might go get him. It’s kind of tough with all these people doing mock drafts, and you really never know who’s going where."
I want to thank Denard for taking the time to speak with me, and here’s a little more background on his involvement with Publix and P&G.
Denard has teamed up with Publix ahead of the NFL Draft to show how P&G products such as Tide, Downy and Charmin are the solution for all home needs. For the Jags on-field needs, he is polling fans to see what position should be addressed at the 2015 NFL Draft. Fans can voice their opinions and enter the P&G Tackle Everything Sweepstakes for a chance to announce a pick at the Draft, among other prizes.
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