Training camp can be a grind. But after tearing his ACL in last year's season opener, Allen Robinson II is grateful for every minute he's able to spend on the practice field in Bourbonnais.
"Man, it's fun," said the veteran receiver, who signed with the Bears in free agency. "Being away from the grass for 10-plus months, it feels so good to be back out here running routes, competing, going against defenders, everything like that. It's exciting."
Robinson joined the Bears in March after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Jaguars. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2015 after catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns and followed with 73 receptions for 883 yards and six TDs in 2016. But he hurt his knee while making his first and only reception last season, a 17-yarder, and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve.
Robinson has since fully recovered from the injury and is participating in training camp practices without restrictions, though he had a scheduled day off Monday.
"Physically, I feel fine," Robinson said. "It's all about getting back acclimated, running certain routes, getting the small things in football as far as actually football: route-running, sinking my hips, stuff like that."
Bears coach Matt Nagy is pleased with the progress Robinson is making.
“I like where he’s at,” Nagy said. “Allen is doing everything that we’re asking for. There might be a couple routes I think more mentally he’s just trying to get over that it’s OK to do that. But that’s part of the health part of him. Once you get through that part, then you’re ready to go. We have the time. That’s the benefit of having five weeks in the preseason and then we get him ready for Week 1.”
While Robinson insists that he's having fun, it's difficult to tell by the intense look that always seems to be painted on his face.
"He's serious," Nagy said. "This kid is laser-focused with our installs. He's asking great questions. He sits in the front of the room. He's a little introverted, which is fine. Everyone is a little different. But he comes to me probably three to four times a practice and asks me certain questions, so we have a good relationship going there."
Determined to revert to his pre-injury form, Robinson could easily concentrate on trying to compile a certain number of receptions, yards or touchdowns this season. But the receiver's laser focus that Nagy described is set on one goal alone.
"Wins," Robinson said. "That's the most important thing. That's literally why I'm here, why they brought any of us here. We're trying win games. We're not here to count whatever else or think about anything else except that."
Robinson signed with the Bears in large part due to their potential to win games—pointing specifically Tuesday at Nagy, promising young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and a strong defense—and wasn't deterred by last year's 5-11 record.
"This is a good team and at the end of the day, the gap of wins and losses is very small, so [last year's record] is not something that you can factor in," Robinson said. "There's no doubt at all this team has all the talent in the world to win games."