Brian Robison is looking leaner and quicker, and his confidence is mirroring that growth.
Last May, the defensive end reviewed his rookie performance and couldn't believe how bad he looked on film.
"I look at film of what I did (in 2007) and I go around telling the guys all the time, like, ‘I was that terrible?' It's ridiculous the things that you learn from your first year to your second year, and they say that's the time that you make your biggest jump, so we'll see what happens," Robison said about 375 days ago.
Actually, any progress he made last year can't really be seen with a look at the statistics. In his rookie season, Robison had 25 tackles and 4.5 sacks; last year, he had 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
He said on Thursday that he had the same harsh criticism of his film review from 2008. But this offseason, it's obvious he is quicker and has an aggressive plan in place.
"Compared to the way I played last year, I feel like right now I'm 100 times better than I was last year. I feel like I had some good rushes last year, but overall I think I'm just 100 times better than I was last year and it's just going to keep getting better every year," he said.
"This year I changed things up a little bit. I got on a little bit better of a diet and I shed some body fat – actually a lot of body fat – and overall I just feel like I've got more energy, I've got more stamina. Overall I feel quicker coming off the ball. I started doing my track stuff again so I've got my explosion back and everything. Coming off the line, I'm just so much quicker than I was last year."
Robison's "track stuff" refers to his aspirations to become an Olympic shot putter after an impressive collegiate career at Texas.
For now, however, the main focus is on football. He said his weight has stayed about that same – he's at 265 now and was listed at 259 last year – but his body fat has declined from 15 percent to about 12 percent, he said. He attributes that to a diet of more lean meats, fruits and vegetables.
His quickness has flashed during practices that have been open to the media. On Thursday, he registered touch sacks (tackling isn't allowed in offseason workouts) of both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, and he has routinely been giving first- and second-team left tackles a challenge.
Robison said his goal is to earn a starting job, despite the presence of Jared Allen and Ray Edwards ahead of him on the depth chart.
"No offense to Ray or Jared, but my goal is to get in the starting lineup. I'm sure Ray is thinking the same thing. I'm sure Jared is thinking the same thing. And that's the great thing about our D-line is everybody wants to start," Robison said. "Everybody wants to do great things. We're going to be competitive, but at the same time we all know our role once the season gets here. If I'm a backup, I plan on when I'm in the game making things happen playing my role."
That seems like the most likely action since a Pro Bowler like Allen isn't going to be benched and Edwards has held up relatively well at left defensive end, which is considered the run-stopping side of the field.
"Not that he couldn't rush from that side. … I think he has a home right here (on the right side). That doesn't mean that you don't ever roll him over there," head coach Brad Childress said. "Earlier in the week we had Ray playing right end and Jared playing left end extensively. So I just see him doing what he is doing from the right side. Then, as you saw last year, he has the ability to move inside and be an inside rusher on some of those nickel passing downs."
Robison knows he has to prove he can hold up against the run as a three-down defensive end.
"I do. For some reason – I don't know why – but for some reason a lot of people say I can't play the run," he said. "I think in the New York game, I think the Philly game, actually the last four games of my rookie year when I started, I feel like I played the run just fine. I just feel like I need to keep coming out here and prove it to whoever that I can play the run and that I am an every-down player."
He is certainly proving this offseason that his leaner body is better able to rush the passer. Now it's just a matter of finding a regular role for him if that production continues into the season.
Robison rushes into impressive offseason
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