The Redskins hope to receive good news pre-game on Sunday after wide receiver Pierre Garcon tests out his injured right foot after a week of limited activity. But if they don’t, coaches likely will turn to first-year pro Aldrick Robinson, who has made dramatic improvements in the last year.
The Redskins drafted Robinson in the sixth round out of SMU in 2011, but after he struggled that preseason (two fumbles on punt returns and no catches), they placed him on their practice squad for all of last season to give him time to continue his development.
A year later, after a strong showing both in offseason practices, training camp and the preseason, Robinson – who as a senior in college averaged 20 yards a reception and scored 14 touchdowns – has looked like the player the Redskins expected when they drafted him.
“He’s got a lot more confidence in his hands,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “Being here at the OTAs and summer camp, he is a lot more comfortable in the system. He made a couple of big plays in preseason where he has a lot of confidence. You can see that. He has a lot of speed to separate from defensive backs throughout the league. Especially when you take look at the first game and the catches he made, he should have a lot of confidence.”
Garcon, the Redskins’ biggest free agent signing this past spring, made his presence felt early last Sunday against New Orleans, recording four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in only eight plays. But he injured his right foot, and Robinson took his place, making four catches for 52 yards – with a total of 30 yards coming after catches — and a touchdown in Washington’s 40-32 victory.
“I was happy with how I did,” Robinson said. “I feel like I proved to my coaches that I can get the job done.”
Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said that Robinson did prove himself capable. Based on what Robinson had shown in practices and in the preseason – especially a six-catch, 104-yard, one-touchdown game against Chicago – Shanahan felt comfortable calling plays for Robinson despite his inexperience.
“Aldrick came in and we still kept going at him like we would have Pierre,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t miss a beat. He stepped it up, did what he was supposed to do and I was real happy for him.”
Even if Garcon can play, Robinson likely has earned himself more opportunities going forward.
“Opportunity is all you can ask for, and then when they come, you have to step up,” he said. “I was able to do that, and now, I just want to keep getting better.”