Second-Year Tight End Robinson Says Year As a Starter Will Mean Improvement in Year 2
INDIANAPOLIS – Gijon Robinson said he knows now what he didn't know then.
"Then," to Robinson, was last season, when he started for the Colts at H-back as a first-year veteran, just a year removed from spending the 2007 season on the practice squad.
What Robinson didn't know before last season was exactly how imant techniques were.
Or knowing the nuances of opponents. Or tendencies.
Or a lot of things, really.
Mostly, given a year of experience, Robinson said he now understands well the importance of details most observers and fans wouldn't and couldn't know.
And he said knowing that could be a big difference next season.
"I learned a lot," Robinson said recently, "and playing against different defenders definitely helped me see the key is learning their different techniques and what they like to do. You have to be able to counteract that. Definitely, my techniques have to be sound.
"I've learned a lot. I feel a lot more experienced."
Robinson, who signed with the Colts as a free agent shortly after the 2007 NFL Draft, played collegiately at Missouri Western State, and caught 83 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns.
He entered last year's training camp considered primarily a blocking tight end, then not only won a roster spot, but earned a starting role opposite Dallas Clark at tight end. He started 14 games, being out of the lineup only when he was injured against Green Bay and when the team opened in a three-wide receiver set at San Diego in November.
Robinson said the experience gained in the first season translates to all areas on the field: in the passing game, knowing what routes to run against different coverages; in run blocking, knowing what spots on the field to block certain defenders . . .
Well, he said, just everywhere.
"A guy may play harder this way, or harder that way," Robinson said. "You learn a lot when you're out there. You start to pick up more things and understand more things – the reason (Colts quarterback) Peyton (Manning) points out this guy, or why he calls a certain pass play, or a different run play at this time.
"You start to see things and things start to slow down there on the field, so you can see things more."
Robinson, despite his reputation as a run-blocking specialist, did more in his first season than run block. He also caught 19 passes for 166 yards and no touchdowns, including a December 7 game against Cincinnati when he caught six passes for 69 yards.
"I feel like I contributed to the team and that I've been out there and went to wars with my brothers on the team," Robinson said. "I definitely feel accepted more in the family. It feels good that I've done something in my life, to be able to go out there and play well and make people happy."
He also caught four passes for 51 yards in a December 18 victory at Jacksonville.
"I don't even gauge myself in terms of how I do well in certain areas," Robinson said. "Basically, when I'm out there and asked to do a job, I want to do that job the best. Everything that is added is definitely a bonus. I know they see me as a blocking tight end – some people do – but I definitely know that I can catch the ball and I can run with it. I definitely can block. I enjoy it. I definitely don't get caught up that stuff. I just focus on doing what the coaches ask me to do and handling that task.
"You can never be satisfied with, 'Oh, yeah, I did enough blocking,' or, 'Oh, yeah, I did enough as far as pass protection or run protection.' I definitely think there's more for me in that area, to be able to go out and execute and provide the team another weapon.
"I'm hoping I can do that."
Toward that end, Robinson said he has spent time in the film room this offseason. He said he aspires to be known as more than a run-blocker and more than a pass receiver, even. Mostly, he said he wants to be known as a complete tight end – a very, very good complete tight end.
"You shouldn't be in the NFL if you don't aspire to be the best at your position in your spot," Robinson said. "I definitely see that. I'm definitely critiquing myself, if I took a wrong step here, or in my pass set, if I'm giving up the outside or stepping back too far away to give the defenders a three-way go.
"I'm always assessing the situation to try to make the best of it and critiquing myself in those areas where obviously I'm weaker in."