Robinson thrilled at 'last chance'

Wide receiver feels he is ready to play in Green Bay's next game at Denver

The start of a lengthy five-day respite for players amid the team's bye week wasn't all quiet Wednesday.

The Packers were notified that receiver Koren Robinson had been reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after serving a one-year suspension.

Robinson was exiled from the club a year ago to the day as a repeat offender of the league's substance-abuse policy.

"I got good news today," Robinson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, when reached for a phone interview in Phoenix, where he's been training the last few months to get in football shape for an anticipated return this season.

Robinson flew to his Raleigh, N.C., home after learning of the reinstatement to gather belongings for his return to Green Bay.

With the Packers off this week, Robinson won't be able to rejoin the team on the practice field until Monday. The coaches will be back at work a day earlier, so Robinson surely will get a refresher course on the offense he played in for only four games last season before he was suspended.

The reinstatement takes effect today.

"We understand and appreciate the commissioner's consideration in this matter," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said Wednesday. "It's been a year since we've seen Koren, so our first step is to have him return to Green Bay. The Packers will request a roster exemption, during which time we would see where Koren is at in terms of football shape.

"We are aware how difficult this past year has been for Koren, but the Packers are grateful for the progress he's made, as evidenced by this reinstatement."

Should the roster exemption be granted, Robinson conceivably could make his season debut in the Packers' next game, a Monday night affair at Denver on Oct. 29. That's his intention.

"If I'm not ready to play on Monday night, then I don't know what I've been doing for the last two months down in Phoenix — I can put it like that," Robinson told reporters on Wednesday night. "I feel like I'm ready to go. I'm in great shape, my conditioning and wind is up, my knee is healthy, I'm healthy. My weight's down, I'm stronger, faster. I don't know what else I could have done."

Robinson, 27, had been working out since the summer with Ken Croner, personal trainer for Packers quarterback Brett Favre, at Athletes' Performance in Tempe, Ariz.

The prelude to Robinson being reinstated came not far from there in Glendale on Sunday. Goodell was on hand for the Arizona-Carolina game, as was Robinson. So, the two had an impromptu meeting at the stadium to discuss the documented strides Robinson made in a mandated alcohol-testing program during the year away from football and the conditions he would be held to if he were to be OK'd for a return to the league.

"Before our conversation was over, I had a feeling he was going to reinstate me, but he had some strong words," Robinson said. "He said, 'Most importantly, don't let yourself down, but also don't let your parents down, don't let the NFL down and don't let me down.'"

Goodell drove home the point by telling Robinson that he's down to his last strike. The next violation of the substance-abuse policy warrants a lifetime ban from the league.

Robinson realizes what's at stake and will continue to receive treatment upon his return to Green Bay.

"I know this is my last chance," Robinson said, "and if I do anything to jeopardize that, then I didn't deserve it in the first place. But I know what I have in my hand, I know what I have to gain, and I also know what I have to lose. If I don't learn from this last year, then I didn't deserve this chance in the first place."

How Robinson is worked back in with the offense remains to be seen. Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and rookie James Jones are entrenched as the top three receivers.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has utilized an assortment of multiple-receiver sets in his pass-happy game plans thus far to compensate for the league's worst rushing attack. With Bubba Franks expected to miss at least a game because of a sprained knee, leaving Donald Lee as the lone tight end of note, Robinson could be rolled in right away in four- and five-receiver formations.

Robinson's primary role, though, would come as a kickoff returner. He averaged 21.1 yards in 12 runbacks last season.

"We don't know (what he can add)," said Thompson, who as vice president of football operations for Seattle drafted Robinson in 2001. "We haven't seen him in a year. He's been away from football for a year. So, we're going to take this and study it and see how everything looks, obviously see how he fits in and what roles he would play."

Wednesday's news was welcome for Favre, who empathized with and supported Robinson from afar in the past year. The two spoke by phone after Robinson was reinstated.

"He's happy for me," Robinson told the Journal Sentinel. "He supports me, and that makes me feel good when Brett Favre thinks highly of you. It's telling me I'm doing things right."

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