Falcons' Bijan Robinson hopes to have Christian McCaffrey-like role under new coach Raheem Morris

As a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons last season, Bijan Robinson showed he was a running back capable of lining up at wide receiver while flashing the all-around skills that helped make him the No. 8 overall pick in the NFL draft
Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris speaks during a news confence before a mandatory minicamp NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris speaks during a news confence before a mandatory minicamp NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — As a rookie in 2023, Bijan Robinson showed he was a running back capable of lining up at wide receiver while flashing the all-around skills that prompted the Atlanta Falcons to make him the No. 8 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Robinson hopes to fine-tune his reputation in a new Atlanta offense with first-year coach Raheem Morris and starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Robinson wants to be utilized like Christian McCaffrey, the league's most productive running back.

“I’m going to be probably more of a runner that does everything else,” Robinson said last week. “You know, still having the access to go to receiver. So I have access to do creative things out of the backfield. More so like how they use Christian in San Francisco, something like that. That’s kind of what the plan is.”

Morris didn't flinch when he heard the McCaffrey comparison from Robinson.

“No, I’m never going to take away a guy’s confidence,” Morris said after Tuesday's minicamp. “There’s something about that youthful arrogance that just excites me. I absolutely love that.”

Morris, the former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator who was hired to end Atlanta's streak of six consecutive losing seasons, brought in offensive coordinator Zac Robinson from the Rams.

When asked Tuesday what fans will recognize as different in the new offense, wide receiver Drake London quickly said, “Oh yeah. The ball is going to be in the air.”

Even so, Morris emphasized Bijan Robinson doesn't have to worry about touching the ball.

“In a simplest form as you can possibly make it, is get the ball to Bijan as much as you can, in as many ideal situations as you possibly can,” Morris said.

“For him, he’s so talented that you don’t want to limit 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 do great. When you get the ball in his hands, he makes people miss, he gets extra yards, he’s able to fight for extra yards, he breaks tackles, he’s fast, he’s explosive, he’s strong, he can do so many things you can get overwhelmed sometimes maybe as a play-caller or even as a designer.”

Robinson's 976 rushing yards as a rookie ranked 15th in the league, far behind McCaffrey's NFL-leading 1,459 yards. McCaffrey was named the AP Offensive Player of the Year and helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl.

McCaffrey also led the NFL with 2,023 yards from scrimmage and was tied for the lead with 21 touchdowns. Robinson added 58 catches for 487 yards. He scored eight touchdowns, four rushing and four receiving.

It's easy to understand why any running back would see McCaffrey's role as one to emulate.

“I think he compared himself to that Christian McCaffrey role and if we can get anywhere near the great player Christian McCaffrey is, I think we’ll all be pretty excited,” Morris said.

Robinson was limited by what he called a “light sprain” of his left ankle through part of the offseason workouts but returned last week and had no restrictions Tuesday in the Falcons' final practice before they begin training camp on July 24.

Robinson, London and others have been impressed by their first practices with Cousins as well as the leadership and knowledge shown by the 35-year-old quarterback, who signed with Atlanta to a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed.

“The thing I like about him is like, you know, he’s not trying to take away the gifts that are God-given,” Robinson said. “He’s like, just do what you do. But, you know, do it like this or try to do it like this. ... You’re having him tell me those kind of things, like I’ve never really had somebody really sit down and tell me, you know, what to do and how to do it.

"Really listening to him and really just taking all the information and feedback that you have for me. You know, I take that seriously and I really appreciate it.”

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London (5) waits to speak to the media after a mandatory minicamp NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins is shwon during a mandatory minicamp NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris speaks during a news confence before a mandatory minicamp NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Daylen Baldwin (84) runs a drill during a mandatory minicamp NFL football practice Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

icon to expand image

Credit: AP