Aldrick Robinson’s first opportunity to make an impact in the NFL didn’t last long.
On Sunday, the Redskins’ wide receiver will get a second chance against the Panthers. And this time, Robinson knows can’t afford to drop the ball again.
“Opportunities are limited,” Robinson said. “Now that they’re going to get more involved, I have to take advantage of my opportunities.”
Robinson replaced Pierre Garçon when the No. 1 receiver hurt his foot in the first quarter of the season opener. Robinson played the final three quarters against the Saints and impressed the coaching staff with his speed and route-running. The 24-year-old also hauled in four passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
As a result of his strong showing, Robinson was tapped to start in Garçon’s place against the Rams the following week. But instead of seizing the opportunity, Robinson missed two blocks and dropped a deep pass that hit him in the hands.
“I didn’t play as well as I wanted,” Robinson said. “That kind of pushed me back a little bit. Now I’ve got another chance.”
Coach Mike Shanahan wouldn’t say exactly how Robinson will be deployed, but with Garçon expected to be sidelined again and the entire group of wide receivers coming off a wretched performance in Pittsburgh that included 10 drops, Robinson will see a more prominent role this week in a critical game for the Redskins (3-5).
“Aldrick has gotten back in the mix,” Shanahan said, referring to Robinson's role in practice this week. “When Pierre went down early, he had a pretty good game. He’s going to get some more playing time. And as you have guys who get hurt, these guys have to step up.”
Robinson played a career-high 66 snaps against the Saints after Garçon hurt his foot. But it was all downhill from there for the Dallas native as his playing time plummeted from 30 snaps vs. the Rams to three against the Giants. He also missed the Tampa Bay game after getting knocked unconscious during the pregame warmup when he ran into teammate Brandon Meriweather.
Against Pittsburgh, Robinson remerged – sorta. He was included in 15 plays and nearly scored a touchdown when dived for a Robert Griffin III pass in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Robinson got both hands on the ball, but cornerback Keenan Lewis held Robinson’s arm, increasing the catch’s degree of difficulty.
Even though he didn’t snag the ball, the play showed Shanahan something.
“If he wasn’t interfered with,” the coach said. “The guy [had him in an] arm bar. He still almost caught it. That showed me a lot right there. There were another couple of routes that he ran that I was really impressed with so he will get some more playing time.”
This time, Robinson plans to grab the opportunity with both hands – on the field, the practice field and in the classroom.
“I have to take a better approach,” Robinson said. “I have to be well-prepared and be ready when a play presents itself Sunday. I’m going to be a lot more focused, work on the details and the little things – all the things that will help me do better than the last time I had this chance.”