Robinson hopes to start

Weakside linebacker Eddie Robinson said he doesn't fault the Bills for trying to sign younger free agent linebackers – he would do the same thing if he were a general manager – but he's adamant about being a starter in Buffalo next season.

"I still want to play and start," said Robinson, who will be 33 on April 13. "I guess (if there are other signings), I'd have to sit down and talk with Gregg (Williams) and Tom (Donahoe) and Jerry (Gray). But I'd prefer not to come back in a different capacity."

The Bills are considering free agents Mike Peterson and Takeo Spikes for weakside linebacker. Robinson understands what the team's administration is trying to do: Get better.

"You have to look at it from the business aspect," he said. "If I were a general manager, I'd want the best 11 guys I could fit under the salary cap. I don't fault Tom Donahoe. There's no animosity. They're going out and trying to build a good, winning team. Hopefully, I'll be a part of it."

Robinson said he's only spoken to Williams and Gray once this year and they were just general conversations. The only other contact he has had with the team was getting a letter in the mail telling him when the team's voluntary off-season workouts begin.

Robinson thinks he could have had a better year in 2002, feeling his game suffered because he didn't play with reckless abandon. That was partly due to Williams wanting Robinson to come in last season and play a very cerebral role while on the field, making sure players were lined up in the right places and overseeing the coach's 46-hybrid defensive system.

He will still do the same kind of thing if he plays for Buffalo in 2003 – he has one year remaining on his contract – but he's going to do a better job finding that happy medium between being an on-field coach and being a football player.

"This past year I was guilty of being too cautious," Robinson said. "I was like a traffic cop. I started playing not to make a mistake. I have to get a little bit more aggressive. I left some production on the field.

"Over my career, I've been an unselfish player. But I'm realizing that sometimes (to be productive) you have to be somewhat of a selfish player."

Robinson also said the Bills should benefit from another year in the Williams defense, which means he wouldn't have to coach the defense on the field as much this season.

The 12th-year veteran has been playing racquetball and basketball to keep in shape this off-season and next week he's going to start his heavy lifting program at the Gold's Gym in Jacksonville, Fla., where he lives.

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