More to Come?

Sophomore wide receiver Corey Robinson played the first quarter of Notre Dame's season with a pin in his broken right thumb. With 13 days between his team's 30-16 win over Purdue Saturday night and the squad's next game, a prime time tussle with Syracuse in the New Meadowlands, Robinson might have a chance to compete for the first time this season relatively pain free.

"I think (time off) definitely will help, but it's one of those things that you just have to fight through it," Robinson said. "Everyone's banged up a little bit, but that doesn't matter when the lights go on. You have to make a play.

"The off-week is going to be very nice though, I tell you."

Targeted a combined four times against Rice and Michigan, Robinson saw seven opportunities in Notre Dame's Shamrock Series win over the Boilermakers.

Included in a three-catch, 52-yard effort was a leaping 15-yard touchdown grab, his first scoring play of the season but not his first reception of major impact. To date, the six-foot-five Robinson has dented defenses for gains of 25, 22, 32, 15, and 5 yards -- the latter is relevant because it, like each of the previous four, resulted in a first down/touchdown.

Robinson's 2nd-and-4 tunnel screen catch that resulted in a 5-yard, chain-moving gain opened the door for fans and media to wonder:

Could Robinson evolve into more than a downfield threat sooner rather than later?

"He's a different type of receiver, he's a vertical threat," said head coach Brian Kelly. "He's a guy that we just need to get the ball to probably a little bit more, and you know, he's sharing time with (junior) Chris Brown right now.

"I think he's done a great job of managing a fractured thumb through this whole time. So I think he's just developing: route running, releases, all those things are a process for him. But I think what we know is that he's a guy that if you put the ball on him, he's going to go up and get it, and I think it's now just a matter of probably giving him more of an opportunity."

His strength as a player doubtless remains as a downfield mismatch, a receiver best served on or outside the hash marks where he can go one-on-one and win against most defenders due to a condor's wingspan combined with velcro-grip hands.

Of Robinson's 14 career catches, 11 have occurred on the perimeter. (13 have resulted in first downs or touchdowns, in addition to five pass interference penalties he's drawn that have likewise moved the chains.)

Fade routes, back shoulder fades, go routes and comebacks -- those are his current bread-and-butter. But the occasional slant and crossing route could open the door for Robinson to more of all of the above.

Robinson noted that catching and holding the ball was immediate adjustment following August 22 surgery to repair his thumb. But it wasn't the most annoying aspect of the restriction.

"You never really realize how much you use your thumb. I couldn't' take notes, open doors. Just trying to put my hand around the ball, and re-learn that, was the biggest struggle.

"It keeps getting stronger. It's healing every day. I'm getting the mental adjustment, don't play handicapped, play like I would normally play and deal with it."

Defenses, as a result, will have to deal with him more as well.


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