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View from the O-Zone: Hunger a good look for A-Rob


JACKSONVILLE – All the things you wanted to see, you saw.

Look at Allen Robinson on the field early in Jaguars 2017 Training Camp, and here's what you see: a guy standing out from teammates, looking again the part of a big-time receiver.

Look at Robinson behind a podium Friday, and here's what you see: a guy looking bigger, stronger than a year ago – and it's not as if he didn't look big and strong a year ago.

Look at Robinson's eyes Friday, and here's what you see:

Determination.  Motivation.  Drive.

Maybe even a little hunger.

These are traits Robinson has displayed throughout four NFL seasons, so perhaps they just seem more heightened, more vivid these days. Either way, seeing a motivated, determined Robinson always is good news for the Jaguars.

Those things were evident when he spoke Friday, too.

"Nobody wants to have that feeling how they had last year," Robinson said.

Robinson said more when he spoke to the media after Day 2 of Jaguars 2017 Training Camp practice Friday, but was more really necessary?  If anything sums up what Robinson and anyone associated with the Jaguars' offense felt late last season and throughout this past offseason, that's it.

They don't want to feel this season as they did last season.

They don't want to feel next offseason as they did last offseason.

That's part of Robinson's story this preseason, and it's an important part: the story of a player and team driven to succeed. Also important in Robinson's 2017 preseason story is another angle.

Robinson, as a second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, is eligible for a contract extension. That wasn't the case until the 2016 season ended, but now it is the case. And because he was a 2015 Pro Bowl selection who has the look and statistics of a core player – and because he has yet to sign a long-term deal – that contract is part of his preseason story.

Reports are that the team and Robinson's representatives have had discussions on a contract. Robinson told media as much early this week.

The contract didn't come up specifically Friday, but Robinson talked about focus.

Yes, he said, his mind is clear entering the season.

"This whole year, from the time I stepped into the offseason, preparing for this upcoming season, I've been able to put everything behind me and put everything in sight," Robinson said. "I have one main focus and that's to be a great teammate and help my team win games. That's the most important thing."

That's the overall impression Robinson early in camp – focused and determined on all fronts. He sounds like a veteran determined to be the player he knows he can be, and to do what it takes to once again be that player.

Take a look at images as the Jaguars complete the second day of training camp.

This is a player who made a Pro Bowl with a breakout 2015 season that had him mentioned with the NFL's best young receivers. He caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Those are elite, No. 1 receiver numbers.

Robinson caught 73 passes for 883 yards and six touchdowns last season. Quarterback Blake Bortles' well-documented accuracy struggles contributed to the drop, but whatever the reasons, Robinson made clear Friday he wants in every sense to avoid a repeat of 2016.

Toward the end, he changed his offseason routine. Rather than work in Jacksonville as he had in past offseasons, he trained eight weeks in Arizona before the team's official offseason program. He worked in Charlotte between the offseason program and training camp.

He worked on being more physical, on being better with his hands and "meshing" his hands and upper body with his feet.

"Throughout the offseason, I've really upped my physicality," he said. "For me, I was more of a footwork receiver.  At the same time, I also was physical, but kind of being able to mesh those up has really helped me out a lot."

Robinson looking impressive early in camp isn't new. He has started strong early in camp each of the last three offseasons, and his improved route running was a storyline early last August.

Combine that sort of year-round, offseason focus with Robinson's production and reliability over three seasons, and you have the makings of a core player. It's logical to think Robinson will be that for the Jaguars for the foreseeable future. He certainly has that feel.

He also has the feel of a determined, hungry player this season – and indeed, all of the things you want to see from a core, No. 1 receiver, you have seen from Robinson early in 2017 Training Camp.

That's far from an unusual look for Robinson.

But even if it's familiar look, it's also a good look – and a look that figures to be nothing but good news for the Jaguars.

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