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Falcons RB Bijan Robinson ready to 'do whatever it takes to get these wins' in Year 2

Statistically speaking, Bijan Robinson had a pretty good rookie year.

He finished with 976 rushing yards, gained at an average of 4.6 yards per tote, scored four rushing touchdowns, caught 58 passes for 487 yards and added another four receiving touchdowns. But there was also an element of the unknown that seemed to trail him into 2024.

Sure, Robinson filled his reel with enough highlights to drive traffic on social media and reveal his unique talents to the football-viewing world. But the hype that followed him from the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine through the 2023 NFL Draft all the way to Atlanta felt underserved.

Robinson intends to fix that in 2024, in large part because he feels refreshed after finally getting some time to recharge following his rookie season.

"It's like day and night," Robinson told NFL Network Insiders Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero Tuesday on The Insiders of the difference between this offseason and the same period a year ago. "Last year, it was a full year, a full two years of going, going, going or having something to do. But with this year, getting to have some time to just relax and let my mind and just my heart just rest for a bit has been awesome.

"Even just coming back here for OTAs and stuff, now I've got the grasp of things and now I feel really good about where I'm at as a player, not just for myself but for this team, and a leader and everything. So I think it was very beneficial to really have a true offseason. It's been a blessing to get to be out there with the guys and have fun and not having to worry about me being a rookie anymore."

The rookie wall is real, and it sounds as if Robinson met it at some point last season. Stat-trackers might point to Week 13, in which he gained 34 yards on 10 carries in a loss to Tampa Bay, then followed that up with a seven-carry, 11-yard outing in a 9-7 loss to Carolina a week later.

At that point, though, most everything was falling apart for the Falcons, preceding Arthur Smith's firing. He's since been replaced by Raheem Morris, who understands Robinson's potential and feels pressure to realize it without focusing too much on feeding the second-year back.

"In the simplest form as you can possibly make it, get the ball to Bijan as much as (we) can and as many ideal situations that you possibly can," Morris told reporters Tuesday of his goal in determining Robinson's role in 2024. "For him, he's so talented that you don't want to limit him in the things that he can do. But you also don't want to water it down so much that he's not doing anything that he can't do great.

"When you get the ball in his hands, he makes people miss. He gets extra yards and he's able to fight for extra yards, he breaks tackles, he's fast, he's explosive and he's strong. He could do so many things that you can get overwhelmed sometimes maybe as a play-caller or as a designer. For him, I think he really enjoys the whole process. I think he compared himself to that Christian McCaffrey role. If we can get anywhere near the great player Christian McCaffrey is, I think we will all be pretty excited."

McCaffrey is a high bar for any back to reach, but if there's a youngster equipped to do so, it's Robinson, provided he's used correctly. That's the balance Morris is going to have to attempt to find in order to maximize Robinson's abilities.

What Morris won't do is try to humble Robinson by artificially suppressing the runner's expectations for himself.

"No, I'm never going to take away a guy's confidence," Morris said. "It's something about that youth or arrogance that excites me. So, I absolutely love that."

Robinson seems to be acutely aware of his own potential. After all, he's likely heard it for years, from his days as a five-star recruit out of Salpointe High School (Tucson, Arizona) through his farewell season at the University of Texas, where he earned unanimous All-American status before leaping to the NFL.

Still, he knows he has to find a way to fit into his team's plans in order to give them the best chance of success.

"Yeah, man, for me, I do whatever it takes to get these wins, especially for this team," Robinson said. "With just the running back room -- me, Tyler Allgeier, (Carlos Washington Jr.), just all of us -- we put in so much every day to be at our best. For me, I want to do what's best for this offense, what's best for this team.

"If that means getting myself or Drake (London) or Tyler or (Darnell) Mooney or one of us the ball to get those wins, that's just what we have to do. Obviously, we have a great quarterback to do that. But for me, I just do whatever it takes. All I'm trying to do is just make this team better every single day. On game days, we're going to do whatever we can to not just be the best offense, but for all of us individually to take part and be the best for ourselves, as well."

This type of buy-in is what coaches dream of securing, especially from high-potential talents like Robinson. It will ultimately fall on the shoulders of Morris and his offensive staff to extract the most from Robinson, though.

That's why they gather in May and June. Come September, they'll hope to be fully prepared to hit the ground running -- in more ways than one.

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