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Focus on the future: Allen Robinson


(This is the second of a series of stories to run this month on young Jaguars players who began developing in 2014 as the future of the franchise.)

JACKSONVILLE – The future is two-pronged for Allen Robinson.

The short-term is perhaps a bit bothersome. That's when the Jaguars' wide receiver said he expects to be finishing the process of rehabilitating a foot injury that ended his 2014 season six weeks early.

The long-term?

On that front, there's no bother. He is excited about his long-term future, as are the Jaguars. But while Robinson said he learned as a rookie he can play in the NFL he said it's as important that the two other receivers in the 2014 rookie class – Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee – learned the same thing.

They're the team's future at the position.

And as Robinson sees it, the future could be bright.

"For us three rookies in the receiver room, that's something we know now," Robinson said recently. "We have that feeling going into the offseason that we can play in this league."

The Jaguars' rookie receiver trio developed at different paces in 2014.

Hurns, a rookie free agent from Miami, impressed coaches throughout the offseason and training camp, playing all 16 games, starting seven and finishing the season with 51 receptions for 677 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns.

Lee, a second-round selection from Southern California, struggled early in the season with a hamstring injury, then peaked at season's end, playing in 13 games, starting seven and finishing the season with 37 receptions for 422 yards and a touchdown.

Robinson, a second-round selection from Penn State, missed much of the offseason program and training camp with hamstring issues, and then emerged quickly as a starter, playing in the first 10 games, starting seven and catching 48 passes for 548 yards and two touchdowns.

"He was doing very well for us and progressing very well," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said shortly after Robinson's season ended in November. "He was one of the top receivers as far as being a rookie, so he had great development."

The 2014 season was a solid start for the group, Robinson said.

"It's just how much can we improve on what we did this year to come into next year and really impact games," Robinson said.

Robinson's chance to spend the last month and a half of the season improving ended during the team's bye week. That was when the team announced that he had sustained a stress fracture in his foot. He was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter, ending his season.

"It was tough because of the fact that you want to be out there making the plays and helping your team," Robinson said. "That was definitely tough, but I can't dwell on that too much. I've been doing my rehab trying to get back out there as fast as possible."

Robinson underwent surgery shortly after being placed on injured reserve and said shortly after the season he expected to begin running – and running routes – in February. He also said he expects to be ready for the beginning of the team's offseason workout program in mid-April – and that he expects the coming offseason to be an important and productive one.

While Robinson gave every indication of being a productive player for the long-term, he said he's far from a finished product. NFL players often take a significant jump from Year One to Year Two, and Robinson said there are areas he must improve to take that jump.

He wants to be more explosive off the line. That's the first step in route running, and he said improving that area would give him more separation in his routes. He also said he wants to work to improve catching the ball at its highest point and work to improve his various catch points.

"Hopefully, getting healthy in the offseason I can really train on that," he said.

The offseason between a player's college senior season and his rookie NFL season is a taxing one, but it focuses more on draft preparation than being ready to play as a rookie. Second-year players can participate in their team's entire offseason program, making the time far more productive.

Robinson said if there was a positive to how his rookie season ended – it's that. Being injured in November rather than late December should mean returning sooner – and he said the sooner he is 100 percent, the sooner his offseason work can begin.

"Throughout the whole year last year, you're doing a lot of combine-specific-stuff, a lot of testing-specific stuff," Robinson said. "Football-specific stuff is kind of on the back burner until after your Pro Day and stuff like that. Now, you get the whole time to focus on what you need to focus on to be a better football player."

Take a look at some of the best images of wide receiver Allen Robinson's rookie season.

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