The Saints defense had a dramatic turnaround last year. The league’s worst unit from 2012 ended 2013 as the 4th-best squad in the NFL. No such luck for cornerback Patrick Robinson though, his year was cut short in week 2 of the season in Tampa Bay.
Things sure didn’t look good for P-Rob, who was carted off the field. He had tears in his eyes, and you could almost feel his pain through the television. It would later be revealed that he suffered a season ending knee injury.
But now? “He’s moving around well and there’s some rust I’m sure he’s working through,” Coach Sean Payton said after Thursday's organized team activities. “His rehab has been real good and he’s worked real hard at it. He seems to be moving pretty fluidly, and I’m sure as he continues to do that and gets more comfortable with football movements, that will help. But he’s had a real good offseason with regards to his injury and how he has approached it.”
Robinson was selected with the Saints 1st round draft pick in 2010. That was the year following the glorious Super Bowl win over the Colts, so New Orleans had the very last pick in the first round. He proved to be a valuable special teams player in his rookie season and showed some improvement in his sophomore campaign, but 2012 wasn’t so pretty. Then again, who did have a good 2012 season under then defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo? 2013 was then a big year for P-Rob to prove himself. He posted a solid training camp and preseason, only to have it all end way too quickly.
“He’s still a young player that we’ve seen develop,” Payton added. “He’s someone that can run, we think has good instincts. We felt last offseason he did a lot of good things. He’s right there as one of the guys competing for playing time and for a spot at that corner position.”
The competition at the cornerback position is definitely one to keep a close eye on this coming training camp. Veteran Champ Bailey is the favorite to win the gig opposite Keenan Lewis, but you also have guys like Robinson, Corey White, rookie Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Rod Sweeting battling for playing time.
There’s no reason not to think Robinson could wind up on top of the heap. He’s got the height, speed and strength to be a #2 corner, as well as really good instincts. So far, he has played 44 games in his career and has totaled 141 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 35 passes defended. He has also blocked 2 kicks and racked up 7 interceptions, including a pick vs. Mike Vick and the Eagles in 2012 that that he returned 99 yards to the house in the Superdome.
Robinson was working with the first team defense in Thursday's OTA, and looked good. He was running well with no brace and recovered a fumble created by Raphael Bush, who swiped the ball out of Marcus Colton’s hands.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan sure likes what he’s seen so far. “He’s a special athlete. A unique guy that can bend; for such a big corner he has natural bend,” Ryan said. “We think Patrick is going to be great for us; we know he will be”