For Keenan Robinson, simply being on the field during training camp is enough of a victory.
The linebacker was drafted from Texas in the fourth round in 2012, but injuries have stunted his growth. In Week 12 of the 2012 season, Robinson tore his right pectoral muscle, knocking him out for the year. And last year, on the first day of training camp, Robinson tore his left pectoral muscle, ending his season before it began.
Now fully healthy, the 6-foot-3, 238-pound Robinson is ready to live up to his promise.
“I’m trying to jump-start my career,” he said. “This year, hopefully I can learn something, do the best I can do and just play a role.”
On paper, the Redskins are counting on Robinson to be more than a role player. Most observers have Robinson slotted as the team’s starting middle linebacker, stepping into the very large shoes of London Fletcher, who ended his stellar career after the 2013 season.
That’s a huge challenge for a player with just 11 career tackles under his belt, but Robinson’s speed, skill and smarts make him a solid candidate to start.
“If you look at what we were doing last year, we had no strengths,” safety Ryan Clark said. “That’s why you have a faster Keenan Robinson now that gets the opportunity to replace London Fletcher.”
Robinson was glad to apprentice under Fletcher, using the veteran as a model for how to prepare his mind and body for the NFL, even as he recovered from his injuries.
“From him, I learned how to be a professional,” Robinson said of Fletcher. “I learned how he approached the game, practice and meetings. Basically, how to prepare for the game in ways that other guys don’t — getting a head start on your opponent when game time comes.”
Robinson, who has been paired at inside linebacker with Perry Riley during practice, is responsible for calling the defensive signals, a role he has experience with.
“I don’t mind that. I did that in college,” he said. “That’s part of being the inside backer.”
Robinson may be an unproven commodity, but he’s eager to show what he can do as Washington aims to revamp its defense and become a more aggressive unit.
“I feel more excitement than pressure,” he said. “I’m excited because I haven’t played football in a year and a half. So to be out here, I just love it. I love practicing every day, I love the meetings. It allows me to do something I love to do, and with being sidelined, I’m now thankful for every second of it.”
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