Robinson deemed coachable

Derreck Robinson hasn't had an easy road to the NFL and even now is only on the doorstep. He has faced suspensions during his tenure at Iowa and faced several injuries to his left leg, most notably a knee sprain and an ankle sprain that caused him to miss a few games. As a senior, though, Robinson started every game and the San Diego Chargers kept close tabs on him though the latter part of the draft and in minicamp, Robinson stood out.

When teams started to call Derreck Robinson, he had a clear idea of what kind of team he wanted to go to. He wasn't about all the hype. He wanted a team that would work with his talents.

"First of all, Coach Phillips called me just before the coordinator called me, and I felt just really intrigued with the way he was talking to me about coaching me," Robinson explained. "Other teams that were calling me were just trying to sell themselves. But San Diego, I think they're gonna put the focus on coaching me and bringing me to my highest potential because that's what I've been lacking is my experience. I think that's what they'll do and that's what they'll focus on with me.

"That's what I want and that's what's gonna put me in a good spot is a person or coach looking over my shoulder and telling me I'm gonna work hard. I'll have an opportunity to put myself in a good position longevity-wise."

Robinson played both defensive tackle and defensive end at Iowa but didn't truly get into the starting lineup until he was a senior. He had just three starts on his resume entering his final year with the Hawkeyes.

But he started every game for Iowa in 2004, playing weakside defensive end. He rewarded the club by collecting a career-high 47 tackles (32 solo) with two sacks, 8½ stops behind the line of scrimmage, two fumble recoveries and a pair of forced fumbles.

At 6-foot-4, 287-pounds, Robinson will vie for a spot at defensive end with San Diego.

According to Robinson, the Bolts have not asked him to put on any weight to play the demanding position in the 3-4 alignment they use. If they do ask, Robinson is not averse to it, believing he has room to grow.

"They haven't said too much about me gaining any weight because I can put on 20 pounds and it won't bother me," said Robinson. "But I don't think they're worried. I think they just want me to get used to the system and everything. That's what I want, first and foremost, is to learn the system before I worry about anything else."

The primary responsibility of an end in the 3-4 is defending the run. With the team ranking third overall in that category a year ago, one would believe they are satisfied.

On the contrary, the Bolts continue to procure players who call run defense amongst their best attributes. Robinson counts himself in the same category.

"I think my best attribute is stopping the run," Robinson admitted. "Coming to my side, there aren't a whole lot of things you're going through. I also think that coming from Iowa and a real hard-nosed kind of D-line and Coach Ferentz, I can rush the passer at the same time that I'm knocking that tackle around. There's just so much stuff that I don't even know I can do, and I think the coaches will see that in the pros."

Under the direction of Ferentz, Iowa has sent 15 players to the NFL via the draft and countless more via undrafted status over the past three years. And three of the drafted players in 2003 were walk-ons, believed by many to be the first time that has been accomplished. Now, Robinson is hoping to throw hit hat in that ring.

"He was probably the most influential because me and him had a very rare relationship with each other as a player to a coach, just because of my mishaps," Robinson explained. "I think he kind of guided me through my bumps. When I got in trouble, I went straight to him so there wouldn't be no behind-the-scenes stuff he would find out from anybody else. We got real close. It was a rare relationship with him."

Robinson was suspended for one game in 2002 after an off-season that included drunken driving and possession of marijuana charges. The next year he was suspended for two games for "conduct detrimental to the team."

His past is something he has not shied away from, words Coach Ferentz told him to live by. Being outspoken about the topic has aided his cause and it was his straightforwardness that endeared the Chargers to him – believing the past was the past and his coachable assets could aid the team in the future.

Minicamp rolled around and Robinson was making his way up the field with regularity against many of the players he faced. A ticket to training camp and work in pads was definitely punched.


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