Michigan. Ohio State.
When wide receiver Braylon Edwards was playing for the Browns, he always used the intense rivalry between the two schools – and the fact that hunting Wolverines is always in season in Ohio -- as a crutch when things went bad for him, saying that Cleveland fans were hard on him because he was a Michigan man.
That was a stretch, but it seems interesting – and fitting – that with the trade of Edwards to the New York Jets on Thursday, it has opened a door wide open for – you guessed it – an ex-Buckeye in Brian Robiskie. It is almost a certainty that the Chagrin Falls High School product will now get a full opportunity to play a lot after being pretty much a non-entity for the first four games of the season.
The timing of the trade had everything to do with an incident at a Cleveland night spot early Monday morning in which Edwards allegedly punched a friend of Cavaliers star LeBron James. However, the deal also comes on the heels of Mohamed Massaquoi's coming-out party last Sunday in a 23-20 overtime loss to Cincinnati.
With the Bengals clamping down on Edwards and refusing to let him get started as he has done against them in the past – and with Edwards helping the effort by dropping yet another pass that hit him right between the numbers -- the rookie wide receiver had plenty of room to run wild. Massaquoi took full advantage of it, too, catching eight passes for 148 yards, the second-highest total in the team's NFL history.
Massaquoi was taken in the second round of the NFL Draft, at No. 50 overall. And 14 spots before that, at No. 36, the Browns tabbed Robiskie.
For whatever reason, Massaquoi immediately moved ahead of Robiskie in his development and has stayed ahead. But with the way Massaquoi looked like a young Paul Warfield on Sunday, and with the fact the Browns are headed nowhere at 0-4and are looking to build for the future, the club is obviously anxious to get Robiskie on the field and see if he can take the same kind of quantum leap forward in Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium that Massaquoi did against the Bengals.
In fact, maybe the Browns will even put Robiskie and Massaquoi on the field at the same time to see if they can form a strong, young nucleus at wideout such as what they did a quarter-century ago with the likes of Brian Brennan, Reggie Langhorne and Webster Slaughter. That turned out pretty well, didn't it?
"With Braylon leaving, it presents an opportunity," Robiskie said Wednesday morning before practice. "I'm going to approach it the way I always have, and that is to continue to work hard. That's what my dad (former Browns and now Atlanta Falcons receivers coach Terry Robiskie) has been telling me since I got here, to keep working hard because it's the only thing I can control."
Robiskie was an instant hit for the Chagrin Falls Tigers, setting school receiving records and being named All-Ohio as a senior. And at Ohio State, once the likes of Ted Ginn Jr., Santonio Holmes and Anthony Gonzalez left for the NFL, Robiskie took over as the go-to receiver. He finished with 127 career catches, eighth-best in Buckeyes history.
But he has stalled – for the first time in his life -- with the Browns.
"It's been frustrating not playing, and not helping your team," Robiskie said.
Those days could be over, though. And to think it all came about because of the transgressions of a Michigan man in Ohio.