By: Will Burchfield
No one’s ever doubted the potential of Greg Robinson, the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
The left tackle has the skillset and the physical makeup most offensive linemen would kill for.
He couldn’t put it all together with the Rams, but a second opportunity has come his way with the Lions.
Detroit traded for Robinson in June hoping he could fill the shoes of injured left tackle Taylor Decker. He’s been working with the first-team offense the past two days of training camp, splitting reps with fellow emergency acquisition Cyrus Kouandjio, and is warming to the task as the competition heats up.
Wednesday marked the team’s second practice with pads.
“The guy is a really fine athlete, he’s one of the better athletes you’ll find at that position,” said Jim Caldwell, Wednesday after practice. “There’s probably not a whole lot from an athletic standpoint that he can’t do. He can bend his knees, he can move, he’s big, he’s strong. I think he can adapt and adapt there well.”
For Robinson, the biggest challenge has been swapping out the techniques he learned with the Rams for those he’s learning with the Lions. His old ways had become intuitive.
“I’ve been trying to take the coaching from (Ron) Prince and just do it the way he wants us doing it, and also incorporating my own things to help separate (myself),” Robinson said. “A few of the zone steps are a lot different. Just getting that out of my technique, my muscle memory, erasing that has been a challenge these past few days. But I think slowly it’ll come along.”
“It’s going to take a lot of adjusting,” he added.
Robinson has also had his nose in the Lions’ playbook, doing his best to make up for what he missed during OTAs. While he’s closing the gap, he’s still behind on some of the calls and schemes.
“Today we worked the sideline count and I was a tad bit late, and I kind of paid for it,” he said.
For Robinson, splitting reps with Kouandjio has been a boon. (Kouandjio would likely say the same thing.) Observation, at this juncture, can be as valuable as experience.
“It feels good to get the defense in front of you and get guys moving, but watching it helps a lot also. The reps are very valuable so you gotta make the most out of it. When guys give you something that you haven’t really seen against the plays that we’re running, it becomes challenging. You just gotta adjust and pick it up as quick as possible,” said Robinson.
Caldwell doesn’t suspect it will take Robinson long to pick up on the intricacies of the offense and get down the new techniques. Robinson, for his part, suggested a timeframe of “a week or two.”
Of the Lions’ playbook versus that of the Rams, he said, “It’s a lot similar, it’s just worded differently.”
During one-on-ones between the D-linemen and the O-linemen on Wednesday, Robinson more than held his own. When it was suggested to him afterward that Anthony Zettel may have burnt him with a spin move, Robinson smiled and shook his head.
“That wasn’t me,” he said. “I look forward to those, I love pass-rushing one-on-ones, because we don’t get much of those. We get like 10 a year, so each rep is very valuable.”
Every rep in every drill is valuable for Robinson right now, with the Lions’ first preseason game a week and a half away. There’s a big opening on the offensive line and it appears either he or Kouandjio is going to fill it.
Asked what it will take to win the job, Robinson said, “Honestly, just learn the playbook in and out and each day give it my all, try to progress. And leave that up to the coaches.”