The Indianapolis Colts are counting on the seventh-year pro to be their “other” cornerback, the guy often picked on when quarterbacks don’t want to test Pro Bowl cover guy Vontae Davis on the other side.
In an ideal world, Robinson would be an upgrade of a replacement on Greg Toler, an oft-injured part of the defense’s problem. He missed 14 games in three seasons with the Colts, and when he played, Toler often got torched.
Robinson is basically being paid the same as Toler. The newcomer received a three-year, $14-million deal. The guy who wasn’t retained — he got a one-year deal in Washington — had signed with the Colts for three years and $14.25 million.
Question is, will the Colts get a better defender? Robinson, 28, has yet to stick as a full-time starter. A first-round pick in 2010, he started 33 of 58 games for the Saints, including a career-high 16 starts in 2012. Last season with the Chargers, whose defensive coordinator is John Pagano, Robinson started 10 of 16 games.
“I have to prove to myself that I can be consistent on how I play on the field,” Robinson said during last week’s mini-camp. “That’s the main thing for me.”
He smiles when asked about the difference between Paganos now that he’s joined Chuck, the Colts’ head coach.
“John is more outspoken, loose, he’s more of a fun type of coach,” Robinson said. “Chuck is more laid-back, cool, but he tells you what you need to hear.”
The Colts have nickel back Darius Butler in the slot, so the top three cornerback slots are set. Depth could be an issue, though. It’s unknown how much if at all second-year pro D'Joun Smith can contribute after an underwhelming rookie season was cut short by a knee injury.
That places more of an importance on Robinson handling his side of the field. Davis earned Pro Bowl selections each of the past two seasons, although 2015 was more of a struggle due to a left foot injury that required offseason surgery. He allowed seven TD catches last season after not giving up one the year before. Chuck Pagano has said Davis looks healthy and ready to return to 2014 form this season.
A healthy Davis means Robinson is sure to see a lot of passes thrown his way. Robinson’s offseason acclimation to a new defense has been smooth.
“It’s a little similar to what I played in San Diego,” he said. “A lot of the same things that we do, just different verbiage.
“I think I’m comfortable. So far, everything has been going great. I feel comfortable.”
His simplified perspective is a familiar mantra for NFL players, especially during offseason workouts.
“I’m just trying to get better, plain and simple,” Robinson said. “My fundamentals, learning the playbook like the back of my hand, that’s going to help the team.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.