Cornerback Patrick Robinson gets fresh start with Eagles
The free-agent pickup is happy for the chance. Ive got to be way more consistent, he says.
Patrick Robinson chases boredom with film. He sits at home and watches footage of wide receivers and cornerbacks from around the NFL, studying for tendencies until he drifts asleep and can no longer focus.
Robinson, an Eagles cornerback, has seven years of NFL experiences to share with a group of mostly first- and second-year players at his position. It's a role the 29-year-old embraces in Philadelphia - although he could have used such guidance in 2010, when he entered the league as a first-round pick.
What would he share with the 22-year-old version of himself?
"Make sure you take care of your body," Robinson said, "and make sure you watch film."
He says it with authority, if not remorse. Robinson is on his fourth team in four years, still searching for the player he believes he can be. He can reflect on injuries and inconsistencies, and he realizes the value of a healthy body and understanding the game.
"A lot more [now] than I did when I was younger," Robinson said about heeding his own advice.
Robinson has started 49 games in his career, and he's in line to be a starting cornerback for the Eagles this year. Robinson has taken first-team snaps during organized team activities and must fight off the young, undistinguished players behind him on the depth chart whom he is committed to helping.
Some of them have bigger parts in the team's future. In the NFL, money can often tell a story. The Eagles signed Robinson to a one-year, $775,000 contract. There would be no salary-cap hit if the Eagles released him before the season. It's the type of low-risk signing that can either provide a Band-Aid for 2017 or one that can be forgotten about come cut-down day. At least this spring, the Eagles are talking about him as a possible solution at cornerback this season.
"This is an opportunity for me this year to show I can be much better," Robinson said.
He has played 16 games in a season just twice in his career. He had only three interceptions during the last four seasons after totaling seven in 2011 and 2012. But at cornerback, statistics reveal only so much, and he knows what "much better" will look like.
"I'd say staying healthy, making the plays that come my way - every time," Robinson said.
The Eagles were interested in Robinson before this season. They looked at him during free agency after Robinson played 16 games for the San Diego Chargers in 2015. Robinson instead signed with the Indianapolis Colts, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz liked what he observed. He lauded Robinson's flexibility to play outside cornerback and in the slot.
Schwartz called 2016 a "lost season" because of injuries - Robinson was limited to seven games because of a hernia - and said that Robinson appears to be healthy again.
"He's really quick, he's really fast," Schwartz said. "He's been around the NFL. So those are all good attributes to have. . . . In my experience, those guys catch up quick because they have so much experience."
But there has been talk of fresh starts for Robinson in the past. He spoke of it after a forgettable season in New Orleans. It was mentioned when he arrived in San Diego. The Colts could have offered that chance last year. Teams have waited for him to prove he can be the decorated player the Saints selected in the first round out of Florida State.
"I think I've shown flashes of it," Robinson said. "But I've got to be way more consistent than what I've shown."
He didn't blame it all on the injuries. Robinson said it was also "some bad play, to be honest."
The Eagles have pursued these types of players before. Leodis McKelvin was the example last season of a former starter hoping the Eagles could offer new life. It didn't work, and now the Eagles are trying Robinson. They don't have anyone ahead of him with more experience, so the Eagles are hoping the wisdom Robinson developed during the last seven years translates into helping perhaps the weakest position on the roster.
"I'm not trying to think about everything that happened in the past," Robinson said. "I'm just trying to think about what I need to do this year."