This year might go down as one of the hardest years ever for a rookie to make a roster. From the lack of OTA’s, to the inability to learn the playbooks early, and dramatically expanded rosters, the odds are stacked against inexperience.
But none of these reasons are an excuse for Aldrick Robinson, who knows that he fumbled away his opportunities early in the preseason.
“I’m not making the most of the chances I’m given,” he said. ”I don’t feel like I had a good camp, not a good preseason either, so hopefully I can turn it back around.”
Part of the explanation is a change in culture.
Born and raised in Waxahachie, Texas, Robinson was the big fish in a small pond through high school. He was a two-sport athlete, and his speed allowed him to excel at pretty much anything on the gridiron. At Southern Methodist University, he was a top receiving threat against other Conference USA opponents.
This is his first extended stay outside of Texas, and Washington is a long way from home.
“I like the weather here–I actually like the weather right now,” he said a few days after Hurricane Irene. ”But some of the food places aren’t the same. Late at night I like to go to Whataburger but y’all don’t have that. Then Burger King isn’t open 24 hours a day down here, and Popeyes closes at 11 where as in Texas it closes at 12.”
These aren’t huge complaints, clearly, but it adds up.
“I gotta eat earlier to do what I want,” he said, shaking his head. ”I like the living though, everything is nice.”
Part of the explanation is the change in playbook. While the SMU Mustangs run a very successful version of the “Run and Shoot” offense, Kyle Shanahan runs a very different pro-style offensive scheme. For Robinson, the transition has been like learning French on a roller coaster.
“It’s totally different,” he said. ”The offense is totally different. In college I had a lot of ‘read’ routes, and it’s just different to me. None of the concepts are the same.”
He continued: “The game speed changes a little bit so you still gotta get used to that. You gotta be comfortable with the offense you are running and how you run the offense. Once you are comfortable with the offense you are running, you will be able to pick it up and your speed will change to with the game.”
Until that happens, all of his physical ability is largely put on pause to allow his mental game to get up to speed. Being out of sync is exactly what happened against the Steelers, when he fumbled both of his opportunities in the return game.
“I was just too anxious to play I think,” he said. ”I was running before I had the ball, looking downfield to see who I gotta make miss, before I even caught the ball. Basically I was trying to establish myself as a playmaker before I could even catch the punt.”
In a crowded field at returner, much of a player’s opportunity and playing time is determined by trust. Robinson recognizes that despite his ability to be a playmaker, he has to put in a lot of time to earn back his coaches’ trust.
“Most definitely I have that ability, but [special teams coordinator] Danny Smith is real strict about fumbles,” Robinson said. ”He’s probably lost all trust in me. I can break it home anytime, but if Danny don’t trust you back there to catch the ball, then he’s not gonna put you back there, even if you can take it back.”
At this point, Robinson knows that he needs more time to absorb the playbook and just wait for his next opportunity.
He doesn’t know if he’ll get the playing time tomorrow against the Bucaneers, but if the chance comes, he’s not going to let this one slip through his hands.
“I’ve gotta get some playing time so I can get out there against another team and show them that I can make plays against anybody,” he said. ”Hopefully I can get some playing time and make a couple plays and open some eyes. I gotta take advantage of every opportunity I get and every rep and just play hard every time I get in.”
Tags: aldrick robinson, Danny Smith, kyle shanahan, returner, rookie, washington redskins
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