Skip to main content

'The game didn't look too big for him.' For Bijan Robinson, it wasn't.

The rookie running back had four carries for 20 yards in Falcons' tie with Bengals. 


ATLANTA — As the butterflies took off, so did Bijan Robinson.

The Atlanta Falcons rookie running back had no shame in admitting to nerves prior to his first preseason game Friday, a tie against the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He expected them, and they fueled his debut 12-yard run just one minute and 26 seconds into the action.

"As soon as the first play was out the way, I was ready," Robinson said. "I was ready. It all went away. But yeah, I was definitely a little nervous going into it. I felt that that was natural. I'm just a human being."

A human being who just so happens to be the Falcons' No. 8 overall pick in this year's draft.

Robinson did not play in Atlanta's preseason opener last Friday against the Miami Dolphins, so the hype of his debut had another week to build. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith announced the starters would play in the second exhibition game as soon as the first ended. It was safe to assume that included Robinson.

"He's incredible," Falcons offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom said. "He's so talented. He works so hard. For him to come out and have success is awesome. And I can't wait for what the future holds."

The offensive starters only played one series, but that series went for 15 plays and 76 net yards. It ended prematurely with a Bengals interception.

Regardless, during that time, Robinson carried the ball four times for 20 yards. That cranks out to be an even average of five yards per carry and broke down individually to 12-, 4-, 3- and 4-yard runs. He also caught one pass for six yards.

"I thought Bijan operated fast," Smith said. "The game didn't look too big for him."

That may have been by design.

"We ran pretty vanilla personnel packages," Smith said. "But I wanted to see how he operates. It was good to see. I thought he carried the ball pretty decent. I thought he protected well."

Despite playing just one series, Robinson was still the Falcons' second leading rusher. Only running back Godwin Igwebuike had more yards rushing for 61 yards on 14 carries. Igwebuike did receive many, many more reps, though, among the backups.

The most important part was getting Robinson some live touches.

"Everything will come at the right time, and everything will come how it's supposed to," Robinson said. "Just be patient. Just learn a lot, as much as I can. Especially for that first drive, I was trying to learn the speed of the other team and the speed of the game. When it all came to me, then that's when I started to let loose a little bit."

The Falcons have one more exhibition game coming up, again at home Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX 5) against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Robinson didn't clarify whether he'd prefer to play, whether he needs more reps before the regular season begins Sept. 10 against the Carolina Panthers. Instead, he's OK with whatever Smith decides.

Friday was just the start, and it was a good start for No. 7.

"I feel awesome," Robinson said. "It was definitely a blessing to be out there and to show little snippets of the gift that God's given me. ... I mean, I know this is the preseason, but I was ready to go."

Related Content