Robinson Savors Chance to be a "Blocking" Tight End
INDIANAPOLIS – Gijon Robinson likes the term just fine.
Call some NFL tight ends "blocking" tight ends, and offense may be taken, as if perhaps the term describes what they can't do rather than what they can.
Robinson, a first-year veteran tight end for the Colts, has no dislike for the term and he said if being a "blocking" tight end is what it takes to impress Colts coaches – and to make the roster next season – then that's what he'll be.
Besides, Robinson said . . . he very much is a blocking tight end.
And as far as blocking goes, he likes it. A lot.
"I don't complain," Robinson said during the Colts' "organized team activities" – 14 days of on-field work that will continue through mid-June at the team's training facility.
"I don't talk about what I want to do. I believe everything will take care of itself if you go out and work hard every chance you get."
Which Robinson said is his focus this offseason.
Robinson (6-feet-1, 255 pounds), who played collegiately at Missouri Western State, originally signed with the Colts as a free agent shortly after the 2007 NFL Draft. He spent last season on the Colts' practice squad, working behind starters Dallas Clark and Ben Utecht and reserve Bryan Fletcher.
Utecht signed this off-season as a restricted free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Colts released Fletcher after selecting two tight ends – Jacob Tamme and Tom Santi – in the fourth and sixth rounds of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said the selections of Tamme and Santi don't necessarily mean a lack of opunity for Robinson. Far from it.
"We'd like him to develop into a full-time tight end," Dungy said. "When he came here, the scouting report on him was he was a great blocker and not sophisticated in the passing game. He did a lot of work on the scout team last year and did a lot of things in the passing game. That's been a big thing for him in this no-pads part of it (the OTAs), working on the passing game and routes and getting comfortable with the quarterbacks. That's our hope, is that he can develop into that point-of-attack blocking tight end who can really be an all-around player.
"He's good at that (blocking). That's his strong suit. Right now, that's what we'll try to take advantage of. He's a good enough athlete – speed, quickness and power – and he catches the ball well. He just hasn't been in an offense with these kinds of adjustment, but as far as running and catching, he can do that."
Robinson said either role is fine with him.
"I love to block," Robinson said. "Nothing makes me feel better than when I get to own my man at the line of scrimmage. That makes me feel just as good as if I have a chance to score a touchdown. To me, when you do that, it's paying off, because I put my body through running and conditioning and lifting weights. I want to be great at it. I have no problem with that. I love to do that.
"I want to go out there and give 100 percent and work hard. If Coach Dungy says, 'I want you to go out there and just block,' that's what I want to do to the best I can."
Robinson said this week that after a season on the practice squad, and after months in the off-season conditioning program, the coming weeks and months – the OTAs and training camp in July and August – are his chance to show coaches and personnel officials he's ready.
He said he's focused during the OTAs on fundamentals, and honing the details that will improve his play come training camp.
"Basically, my mindset when I'm out there – every session I get, every practice I get – is listen to my coach (tight ends Coach Ricky Thomas)," Robinson said. "He always stresses details like taking the proper steps, paying attention to the quarterbacks when you're in the huddle running routes as hard as you can. It's the little things he says that count, as far as hand placement when you're blocking against a defensive lineman, or getting your shoulders over your feet when your breaking out of your routes.
"I'm focusing on that kind of stuff and on top of that, when I go home at night, I'm going over it and over it in my mind. Everything he tells me, I write down in my notepad. That way, I'm hitting it over and over again. It's a time for me to show I understand the offense, and I can handle being out there with (Colts quarterback) Peyton Manning. It's a time for me to show I understand the audibles, the coverages.
"It's very important for me to show I can handle being here."
Robinson, who caught 83 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns in college, said that was his focus last season, too. In meetings, he said he listened to critiques of other tight ends as if they were his.
"If other guys make a mistake, I write down what they do," he said. "It applies to me, too. I pay attention to all that stuff. That's how I'm approaching it. I feel good about it. My coaches always included me in everything we did last year – in the meetings, in special teams meetings, in meeting rooms with the tight ends. Even though I was on the practice squad, they always included me and asked questions. It gave me the will to say, 'I feel good about this. I'm going to continue to study.'
"It felt good they would do that. It helped me learn."
And although making an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent, and after a year on the practice squad, is hardly the easiest avenue, Robinson said, "I don't look at the draft picks or any of that stuff."
"I'm happy these guys got selected the draft and are getting what they deserve," Robinson said. "It's hard work getting here. I'm just focusing on God and listening to my coaches, and I believe if I do that, everything else will fall into place."
"It's a really a gratifying experience. I'm an undrafted free agent, so it's a blessing I'm even here and able to play. It's about confidence in yourself and finding that joy. I'm able to go out there and do things 100 percent and give my all without worrying. It feels really good."
THE TIGHT ENDS
Sixth NFL season
Acquired: First round, 2003 (No. 24 overall)
A big-play tight end with rare athletic ability, he has developed into a crucial part of the passing offense in five NFL seasons. . . . In four seasons, he has 179 receptions for 2,234 yards and 15 touchdowns. . . . He finished last season with 58 receptions for 616 yards and 11 touchdowns, all of which were career highs. . . . He also set franchise records for receptions and touchdowns receiving by a tight end.
First NFL season
Missouri Western State
Acquired: Free agent, 2007
Signed as a free agent by the Colts shortly after the 2007 NFL Draft, he spent the 2007 season on the Colts' practice squad. . . . He played in 47 games at Missouri Western State, catching 83 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns in college. . . . He played 12 games as a senior, catching 25 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown.
Acquired: Fourth Round, 2008
A four-year letter-winner, he started three seasons at Kentucky, catching 133 passes for 1,417 yards and 11 touchdowns. . . . His 133 receptions ranks first in school history and second in Southeastern Conference