Even before reserve inside linebacker Jonathan Goff suffered a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee Saturday, rookie Keenan Robinson felt comfortable with his odds of making the Redskins’ 53-man roster. Robinson said he figured the team would not have used a fourth-round draft pick on him had it not expected him to suit up when the season began.
Goff’s injury broadened Robinson’s responsibilities along with his potential playing time. Initially, coaches had asked Robinson to focus primarily on learning the responsibilities of one of the inside linebacker spots in the team’s 3-4 base defense. But this week, he’s been spending time at both inside linebacker positions, which he said can only boost his chances for seeing the field this fall.
“I guess it does create more of an opportunity for me because the coaches will rely on me more and expect me to know both positions and know them very well, to the point where I can fill in if anyone goes down, like [starters London] Fletcher or Perry [Riley]. It’s not more pressure. It just allows me more of an opportunity to get in the game if something were to happen.”
The past few months have been full of transitions for Robinson. In addition to taking the leap from college to the NFL, he also was asked to move from outside linebacker – where he started 39 games at Texas – to the inside.
Robinson said his main objective during training camp is to shore up some of the areas in which he was a step slow during OTAs earlier this offseason. He said improving on his ability to play the run – not just being in the right area, but being in precisely the right spot on each play – was one particular point of emphasis.
“Now I’m really doing that in practice, making sure that every play I’m where I’m supposed to be, so that other players can make their plays and we can fit like a defense is supposed to,” Robinson said.
Goff, who has been waived since suffering his latest setback, had been expected to serve as a primary reserve at inside linebacker. But even with the extra room for growth, Robinson has other names to surpass on the depth chart to earn regular playing time. Veterans Lorenzo Alexander and Bryan Kehl also are competing for the backup spots at inside linebacker behind Fletcher and Riley.
“For me,” Robinson said, “it’s just making sure that I do everything I can to put myself in the best position to play and see the field.”
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