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James Robinson looking to get back to his rookie ways in New England

Robinson ran for over 1,000 yards his rookie season.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Rhamondre Stevenson was perhaps the best offensive player for the New England Patriots last season. Not only did the back lead the team with over 1,000 rushing yards, but his 69 receptions also paced the team.

While Stevenson’s talent needed to be on the field, New England was forced to heavily rely on him as Damien Harris dealt with multiple injuries and they seemed reluctant to rely on rookies Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris. Stevenson ended up playing over 66 percent of their offensive snaps — a drastic increase from his 24.7 percent mark from his rookie season — which resulted in him seeming to hit a wall of late down the stretch.

Part of New England’s potential plan to help manage Stevenson’s workload in 2023 was signing running back James Robinson in free agency. While his contract does not guarantee him a roster spot, the veteran sees a strong fit in New England.

“Playing against them, seem like they like to run the ball. Just like the way they do things around here,” Robinson told reporters at Gillette Stadium on Thursday. “When I got here, talking to Bill O’Brien and running back coach [Vinnie Sunseri], felt like a good fit.”

Robinson signed a two-year deal with New England in free agency, which heavily relies on incentives. The deal comes after a poor 2022 season which Robinson was traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the New York Jets. He ended up being a healthy inactive the last five weeks of the season.

“It wasn’t ideal,” Robinson said about the situation. “I don’t really like moving around like that. Kind of hard to just find my role really.”

While he was inactive down the stretch, Robinson was not the same back on the field either. The 24-year-old tore his Achilles down the stretch of the 2021 season, which is infamously known as a career-threatening injury for running backs.

Robinson, however, did not feel like the injury was the cause for decline.

“Coming off the Achilles, there was a lot of talk that ‘he’s not going to be this or not going to be that,’” he explained. “But, felt like the start of that year when I came back I was doing pretty fine. And I haven’t had a problem with it since.”

Over a year removed from the injury, New England will hope to get the rookie version of Robinson — in which he ran for over 1,000 yards and added seven scores. Robinson additionally made his mark in the passing game, hauling in 49 receptions.

“I feel like I do it quite naturally,” Robinson said of his pass-catching ability. “When I get the opportunities for that, I feel like I make the most of them.”

New England could benefit from a back filling the James White-role, as they struggled to replace him last season. Beyond that, Robinson is hoping to get back to the rest of his rookie ways now in New England.

“Doing what I can to help the team win,” he said. “Just trying to bring what I did in my rookie season here.”