Forgotten OLB

Forgotten by all but the Steelers' coaching staff, Adrian Robinson has been moved, and promoted, and believes he can be one of the team's surprises this season.

PITTSBURGH – James Harrison departed, Jason Worilds moved up, and Jarvis Jones was drafted.

Forgotten in all of this talk about pass-rushers for the Pittsburgh Steelers is the guy who disrupted so many offensive practice plays last training camp as an undrafted rookie.

Then again, the coaching staff hasn't forgotten about Adrian Robinson.

No, the coaching staff has moved Robinson over to the sweet spot for pass-rushers, over to the quarterback's blind side, the defense's right side, where coaches like to position their premier pass-rushers.

"I love it. I love it," said Robinson, who believes he can push Worilds and Jones to become Harrison's replacement.

Linebackers coach Keith Butler believes it, too. In fact, he's taken to calling Robinson "Zilla," as in Godzilla, as in "Zilla, I'm moving you over to the right side this spring."

Robinson tried to take the news so nonchalantly.

"Sometimes it's just like, ‘All right coach, yeah,'" Robinson said. "So when he told me it was ‘Yeah, OK, coach.' Then later on that day I had a big smile on my face that said ‘I'm ready,' because this is a big thing. It's a real big thing to be on that right side."

Like being moved into the clean-up spot of the batting order?

"Oh, it's ... it's ... oooh ... oooh, you don't know. I love that right side. I l-o-o-o-v-e that right side because there aren't many left-handed quarterbacks. Nobody can see you on that right side, so you've got to love that."

Harrison took advantage of his sub-6-foot stature to sneak up on quarterbacks with his strength and leverage. The taller the offensive tackle, the better, it seemed, Harrison played.

Robinson has similar stature, but while he may not have the brute strength Harrison had, Robinson is probably quicker.

Robinson resembles Harrison in more ways than stature. Both were undrafted, and both display the same type of aggressiveness and pass-rushing feistiness. Robinson has forced more than one swing pass to a safety valve before Ben Roethlisberger wanted to throw it this week.

"James was about 5-10," Robinson said of the inevitable comparison. "But whenever I asked him he would say he's 6 foot. And I told him I was 6 foot. He always gave me stuff about that."

That's as far as Robinson would take the comparison. He realizes he has to prove himself on the field.

"If you're undrafted and can do what he did, I mean, he did 10 years and he's still going, and he did it just so, so, great. He's great," Robinson said. "Doing what he did? I mean, it's one thing to be an undrafted guy, but to do it that well, it blows my mind."

Robinson does carry the same reputation for hard work that Harrison did, so naturally he's continued to work to bulk up and become stronger. But Robinson also has worked resolutely on his coverage skills this off-season. It paid off Thursday during practice with a juggling interception on a deep drop.

"The experience for one thing is really big," Robinson said. "This is my second year and that jump has to be that much bigger. This off-season, for me, it was coverage, and coverage, and coverage."

Robinson does have one big edge on Harrison: He wasn't cut as a rookie. In fact, Robinson, undrafted out of Temple, not only made the roster as a rare fifth outside linebacker, he played special teams in 12 games. Harrison played only once as a rookie.

Right now Robinson is working behind Worilds on that right side and in front of this year's first-round draft pick, Jones, who began scrimmaging with the vets on Thursday.

Clearly, Robinson's in the middle of two very different worlds. He can take a big step in either direction, but he's seeing it only one way.

"I'm going to compete with these boys," Robinson said. "It's not last year when I was a rookie and I was the same old kid. I've been working hard. I'm going to be in that competition, too. Maybe a lot of people don't see me as somebody who can do something, but I think I'm just as good as any guy on this team. And I just want to show everybody that."

(Much more from Adrian Robinson can be learned from the transcript of the interview found here.)


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