Bijan Robinson of the Falcons lives up to the hype and shines in his preseason debut.

Despite the sky-high expectations that have been placed on Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson, he demonstrated on Friday night that those expectations are more than justified with an exhilarating and highlight-filled drive in the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

After receiving the handoff, Bijan Robinson immediately cut to the right before making his way upfield, altering his path, and finding a path that led to the second level.

The first-round pick for the Atlanta Falcons then had a one-on-one matchup against the experienced safety Nick Scott, which he won decisively with a quick flip of the joystick by juking left and forcing Scott to miss in the hole before finally being taken down for a gain of 12 yards.

It was Robinson’s first professional carry, making him the highest drafted running back since Saquon Barkley in 2018. It was also a tantalising preview of what’s to come, as evidenced by his impressive one-handed catch later on in the Atlanta Falcons’ 13-13 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals in a preseason game on Friday night.

Robinson only participated in one drive, but he demonstrated everything that was required of him by finishing with four rushes for a total of 20 yards and one reception for a total of six yards. Before the play was called dead because of a challenge by the Bengals, both the Falcons coach Arthur Smith and the quarterback Desmond Ridder stated that they believed Robinson was going to score a touchdown on a carry that was taking place in the first quarter.

Even though Atlanta’s offence operated, in Smith’s words, “pretty vanilla” ideas, the early returns were left the Falcons’ third-year coach encouraged with what he saw. Prior to the game, Smith mentioned that he was anxious to see Robinson’s tracks and wanted him to get his feet wet.

Smith said that it was very impressive how he dealt with it. “I had the impression that Bijan worked quickly. It didn’t appear to be too huge for him, that’s for sure.

According to Smith, not only did Robinson make a difficult grab, but he also “protected well” as a blocker, and he is still a possibility for the team to use as a punt returner if that role becomes necessary. Perhaps most importantly, Robinson continues to demonstrate that he adds value in more ways than simply carrying the ball.

The idea that Robinson would be able to have an impact on games in a variety of ways was a significant factor in the Falcons’ choice to choose him, and it is already becoming apparent that this was one of the most important factors in the selection process.

Even better, Ridder reported that Robinson was comfortable, and he certainly appeared to be himself while donning pads for the first time inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ridder also mentioned that Robinson looked like himself.

“He’s out there doing what he does,” Ridder added. “I’ve seen him.” Put simply, “Just get the ball in his hands and let him go.”

And if what happened on Friday night is any indication, Smith, Ridder, and the Falcons plan on doing exactly that with Robinson this fall… and the result could be as great as Atlanta envisions its dynamic ballcarrier being able to be.

 

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