Two days after their struggling special teams units surrendered an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return that set up another touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, the Washington Redskins made an in-season change, hoping to spark improvement.
In the same week that, they signed linebacker Josh Hull to replace linebacker Bryan Kehl, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, the Redskins also released safety Jordan Pugh, who had filled in here and there on defense, but struggled on special teams. The team added Michigan State product Trenton Robinson, believing that his services would serve as an upgrade.
Robinson – a second-year pro with two previously unsuccessful, brief stints with San Francisco and Philadelphia – embraced the opportunity to prove himself to a new team after learning a valuable lesson following his second release.
The 5-foot-9, 193-pound Robinson in the six games since has contributed with seven special teams tackles as Washington’s coverage units have experienced some improvement.
In today’s Game Day Q&A, Robinson discusses his change of scenery, the mindset a special teams player must have, and his future aspirations.
MJ: What has this transition been like for you as you’ve settled in over the last six weeks while trying to carve out a role on this team?
TR: It’s been cool. My key right now, and just in life, is just keep pushing forward. Keep pushing, keep working hard and good things will come.
MJ: What kind of expectations did you have when you signed here?
TR: I just came in with the mindset of whatever they needed me to do, I would do. I had been released from San Francisco and Philadelphia, so I had to change my attitude because it was something about me, obviously. It ain’t the way I played. So, whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do it and try to be the best at it.
MJ: How did you regain your focus after getting released twice in less than a year?
TR: I did get discouraged. But I had good people in my corner. My ex-girlfriend was real helpful and encouraging me to push forward and keep working because it was all going to work out.
MJ: You mentioned an attitude adjustment. What changed?
TR: Just my approach to the game. I wanted to be playing safety so bad that I was kind of upset that I wasn’t playing safety. My focus wasn’t where it needed to be for what teams needed of me. So now, I go in with a better mindset. I still focus on safety, nickel and dime – whatever they need – but I also just go in positive and say, ‘If you want me to play special teams, I’m going to be the best special teams player out there.’
MJ: What did you realize about special teams as you mentally regrouped?
TR: Special teams is huge part of the game. A lot of teams lose football – most games come down to some special teams play, whether it’s field goal, kickoff, somebody returning a return. It’s a huge part of the game.
MJ: What kind of mindset do you have to have to run down a field at full-speed, knowing a violent collision is waiting?
TR: I love to hit anyway. I play safety and I love to hit. So, it’s just fearless. It’s nothing to be scared of, just go out there and you do your thing.
MJ: What’s your favorite unit to play on?
TR: Punt and playing gunner, and playing kickoff because you get to run down and make tackles.
MJ: How would you describe the adrenalin rush?
TR: For me, there’s nothing else like it that I’ve done to this point. It’s like helping a little kid and seeing him grow up and be good. I don’t know, it’s just real gratifying.
MJ: When you got here, was it good to see a familiar face in Kirk Cousins, your former Michigan State teammate?
TR: Oh, yeah. That was real good because I felt a little confidence to talk to him and ask him to help me out with things. That was real good to have him here.
MJ: What goals have you set for yourself now that you’ve settled in here?
TR: Actually, I just set a new goal of keep working hard and I want to really thrive on these special teams the rest of this way these last five games. I want to get these units going.
MJ: Your deal is up following this year. What will it take to find a long-term home?
TR: It just takes being in the right place at the right time, and this year is winding up, so my goal in the offseason is just get into a camp and I’m just going to show a team what I can do.
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