Long-Shot Robinson Provides Shot in the Arm

Luther Robinson was promoted to the active roster on Thursday and delivered immediately with a huge play in the win over Minnesota. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Luther Robinson was a long shot.

An afterthought.

In 33 career games at the University of Miami, Robinson started merely three games. He didn’t record a single sack and tallied merely two tackles for losses.

Not surprisingly, Robinson went undrafted. Then he went unsigned. He was invited to the Green Bay Packers’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, and showed enough to be given a contract.

Robinson flashed here and there in training camp but was released in the final cutdown, though he was brought back to the practice squad. Then came Thursday. He was promoted to the roster and had a hand in one of the biggest plays of Green Bay’s blowout victory over Minnesota.

With Josh Boyd inactive with a knee injury and Datone Jones bowing out with a sprained ankle, Robinson was thrown into the fire. And he burned the Vikings.

It was Robinson’s pass rush that resulted in Julius Peppers’ pick-six. The photo with this story shows the ball deflecting off Robinson’s arm.

“I think I got a piece of the ball,” Robinson said after Green Bay’s 42-10 victory.

Robinson’s big day started around noon. With Boyd’s injury and a big increase in reps during the abbreviated practice week, Robinson figured he’d be promoted to the active roster. At about noon on Thursday, Robinson was officially given the good news.

“I’m very happy for Luther,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. “You watch what the young man did, starting in training camp, his work on the practice squad, then to have the opportunity tonight to make a play like that. It’s always a little special when a young man steps up when he gets an opportunity and takes advantage of it.”

Robinson played 35 snaps, according to the league’s official tally. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Robinson had two quarterback pressures. The one was on Peppers’ interception; the other might have been on Jamari Lattimore’s interception on the next series.

“Luther was a tryout guy. He kind of just showed up here in IPWs,” fellow defensive lineman Mike Daniels said. “He really worked his tail off through the OTAs and minicamp and camp and during the practice squad. His work’s coming through and I’m very proud of him. I’m excited to see how he continues to grow because he’s a kid who’s doing some good things. We weren’t afraid to put him in.”

Not that the Packers had any choice. B.J. Raji and Khyri Thornton are on injured reserve and Boyd and Jones were sidelined. That left only Daniels, Letroy Guion, Robinson and fellow undrafted rookie Mike Pennel to hold the fort against the Vikings.

“That’s what we need,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “It’s always been this next-man-up mentality, and you never want to live by that, but unfortunately that’s the case with ‘Tone going down today. We needed a new young guy to step up – and that’s exactly what he did. There’s times when we’re lined up and we look around and we’ve got some rookies out there, which is a little different than I’m used to seeing with Raji and some of these other guys, but ultimately, we’ve got to rely on them. He did a great job.”

Robinson knows Thursday has to be the start. There are plenty of players capable of making a key play. It’s what he does next that will determine if he has some kind of future on the team.

“I just have to keep getting better,” he said. “I don’t want to make that (game) my ceiling. That’s my floor. I want to keep getting better.”

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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