Brian Robinson Jr. had fun, and lots of it, during his first season in the NFL.
Despite missing the first four games of the Washington Commanders' 2022 season while he recovered from multiple gunshot wounds, Robinson established himself as a tone-setter in the backfield. He rushed for 797 yards while averaging almost four yards per carry, scored three total touchdowns and recorded his first 100-yard game.
Yep, that sounds pretty fun.
After spending the past season learning and making an impact for the Commanders' offense, Robinson's focus has shifted towards rest, recovery and preparing for Year 2.
"I'm appreciative of everything that's been granted to me," Robinson said during last week's locker room clean out. "I just have so much to look forward to."
Robinson had to be eased back into the lineup once he made his return from the Physically Unable to Perform list, but based on his workload, it was clear that he did not need much warming up. Aside from two games -- Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans and Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts -- he got at least 12 carries on a weekly basis, including a season-high 26 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
That usage lines up with what coach Ron Rivera promised Robinson back before he was even drafted.
"Coach Rivera told me that if he brought me in here that he wasn't gonna sit around and let me develop," Robinson said. "He felt that I was ready to come in, ready to play. That was the expectation. That's what I did."
Robinson played the lynchpin for several of the Commanders' wins, whether it was running the ball or even as a pass-catcher. He pushed his way through Eagles defenders on his way to the touchdown that gave Washington the lead during the Monday Night Football game; the first score of his career led to his team getting a win over the Chicago Bears; and he plowed over Atlanta Falcons defenders for his first receiving touchdown in Week 12.
All the while, Robinson continued to gain confidence in his skill set each week.
"I'm starting to get more comfortable in my second level play," Robinson said after the Falcons game. "Just getting up on the second level and making a second level move. At first it was just kind of like get me that pump to get back up on that second level, but now I want to take that next step and play on the second level and finish on the second level."
Robinson could see the difference, too. He saw improvements in the way he ran each week on film, so much so that he said the version of himself that first took the field against the Titans "wasn't even close" to how he looked near the end of the season.
"It was a year where I just had the chance to grow as a professional and watch myself develop this year," he said. "I saw myself make those strides week in and week out."
Robinson was ruled out of the Commanders' season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, so for now, his focus is on getting some mental and physical relaxation before jumping back into training for his second season. His plan is to come back for training camp fully healthy and build off what was a strong start to his career.
It will be important for Robinson that he is ready to go in July, because he feels that he and his teammates are close to a breakthrough.
"We showed ourselves what we can do," Robinson said. "We showed ourselves what type of potential we can play to, what we can build around. It's...good energy to go into the offseason with. Hopefully, guys feed off that and come back with a chip on their shoulders."