Aldrick Robinson suddenly competing with a crowd of wide receivers

Lee Doss, Aldrick Robinson, Akeem Jordan

Aldrick Robinson squeezes between Lee Doss, left, and Akeem Jordan during offseason practices in June. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Between now and training camp, Mike Jones takes a closer look at players who find themselves competing for key roles this season, or are in position battles this preseason.

The offseason moves by Washington at wide receiver will impact a number of players at that position, but none could find themselves in as much of a pickle as third-year pro Aldrick Robinson.

A sixth-round pick out of Southern Methodist in 2011, Robinson spent his rookie season on the practice squad before earning playing time here and there the next two seasons thanks largely to his speed, which served him well as a deep threat.

Robinson primarily played as Pierre Garcon’s backup last season, but still had only a limited role, recording 18 catches for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Inconsistency and a lack of versatility ranked among Robinson’s biggest weaknesses.

Outside of the deep route, Redskins coaches didn’t feel comfortable using Robinson many other ways. He didn’t do well in preseason opportunities as a return man or gunner on special teams. And on offense, he struggled off and on with drops and precise route-running. And at 5 feet 10, he lacks the size to create mismatches in traffic.

But Robinson remained a member of the roster because he boasted speed that his fellow receivers lacked.

Things have changed, however. This offseason, the Redskins signed DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, who both possess impressive speed. They also drafted Tulane’s Ryan Grant, who already has demonstrated good route-running ability. Another new face – undrafted rookie Cody Hoffman – towers over Robinson at 6-4. And other offseason additions Lee Doss, Rashad Ross and Jerry Rice Jr. all possess similar speed.

This training camp, it’s important for Robinson to show that he has improved his route-running ability so the team can use him on more than just a handful of plays. He also must show he can contribute on special teams. During offseason practices, he took some work as a jammer and gunner on the punt coverage and return units. If he can contribute there, that could help him earn a roster spot.

Familiarity could help give Robinson an edge as the rookies work to learn the offense and NFL game. But eventually, that will only take him so far without significant improvement.

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

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