What about Laurent Robinson?
The wide receiver barely made a blip on the transaction radar when he joined the Cowboys this season, but he has become an integral cog in the Dallas offense, especially while Miles Austin has battled injuries. His 42 receptions (already a career-high total) and 626 receiving yards are the third-highest totals on the team. With seven receiving touchdowns this year, he and fellow wideout Dez Bryant are tied for the team lead.
An indication of Robinson's value to the team can be measured by the media attention he receives in the team's locker room at Valley Ranch. At the beginning of the season, Robinson was regularly ignored as he sat in front his locker. Teammates with lockers next to his or nearby — Bryant, running back DeMarco Murray, linebacker Bruce Carter, even third-string quarterback Stephen McGee — all got interviewed more often. But once Robinson established himself as a reliable playmaker, the media has been drawn toward his stall. Reporters now flock around him, three- or four-deep.
The fifth-year veteran from Illinois State spent his two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons before moving on to spend two seasons with the St. Louis Rams. Because of injuries, he played in more than six games just twice in four years.
But Robinson is as modest as he is anonymous. When asked to explain his breakout performance this season, he deflects all compliments to his teammates, particularly quarterback Tony Romo and Bryant.
In his young NFL career, Robinson already has played with several able quarterbacks, including veterans Kyle Boller and Marc Bulger in St. Louis, and young stars Matt Ryan with the Falcons and Sam Bradford. None of them, he said, commands an offense quite like Romo does.
"(Romo is) just so focused," Robinson said. "He has that ‘it' factor, you know? He comes out and takes control of the huddle, he's a natural leader."
Robinson was complimentary of the quarterbacks with whom he played in Atlanta and St. Louis, but said none of them had quite the same level of the ‘it' factor he sees in Romo.
"Kind of, but not like Tony," he said. "He's just so passionate. I really like the way he leads this team. He's a great leader for us."
Robinson declined to engage in any debate about whether he is now Romo's go-to receiver, but the numbers clearly show he is an invaluable piece of the Cowboys' offensive puzzle. Witten leads the team with 61 receptions and 760 receiving yards, and among receivers with more than Jesse Holley's seven catches, Bryant leads the team with an average of 15.3 yards per reception. Robinson's catches and yards are the third-highest totals on the team; his average of 14.9 yards per catch is second among the regular receivers.
While Robinson is enjoying an increase in attention from fans and media — and opposing defenses — he said it is Bryant who is just beginning to scratch the surface of what he can do.
"He's going to be the best wide receiver in the league soon, as he keeps working at his craft," Robinson said of Bryant. "He makes the spectacular catches in practice all the time, but it's kind of routine to us, because he does it so often. With his (big) hand size, is body control … he's going to be a great player."
Robinson Deflects Credit
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