It is currently Week Two of OTAs (Organized Team Activities), and players are showcasing their talents in hopes of impressing the coaching staff in Washington. There have been some pleasant stories and performances, but none of these under the radar prospects stick out quite as much as Inside Linebacker Keenan Robinson.
The former Texas Longhorn was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has had two years in the National Football League, but he spent a majority of those two years standing on the sidelines due to a pair of unfortunate pectoral injuries.
The first injury was suffered during a 2012 November matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. Robinson's right pectoral was torn after Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten fell on him; his 2012 season came to an abrupt end. The second injury occurred in 2013 on the very first day of Redskins training camp. This time, it was the left pectoral, and it left Robinson unable to make contributions on the field for the entire 2013 season.
Despite these discouraging injuries, Keenan Robinson continues to relentlessly pursue a spot on this team, and he is doing an outstanding job. He has made good impressions with Head Coach Jay Gruden and Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett. Gruden admits that, during OTAs, he often finds himself asking, "is that Keenan again?"
Robinson also has all the emotional and mental support that he needs to recover from his injuries. He has spent plenty of time with Redskins Outside Linebacker Brian Orakpo (another Texas alum) during the offseason. Orakpo also suffered a season ending pectoral injury in 2012, so he is perfect for assisting Robinson in his return to the football field.
The performance Robinson has given during OTAs is impressive, but his potential adds to the excitement as well. He is listed as 6'3", 238 pounds (according to redskins.com), so he possesses the size, speed, and athleticism to keep up with today's NFL Tight Ends. He won't be as much of a liability in coverage as fellow Inside Linebacker Perry Riley Jr.
Some even believe that by the time the regular season starts, Keenan Robinson could beat out Perry Riley Jr. for the Mike Linebacker role, the position previously controlled by recently retired London Fletcher. This position is extremely important, because it requires the player to be the "Quarterback of the defense." The player must read what the opposing offense is showing and make adjustments accordingly. In short, Keenan would be calling the shots on the field.
It seems as though Robinson has already made a name for himself as a starter, but realistically, he still must compete with 2014 Free Agent additions Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan, who both have starting experience in a 3-4 defense. There is still plenty of time for the depth chart to be shaken up.
Remember, Keenan Robinson is a player who had 11 tackles in 11 games in 2012. Those stats alone speak for his entire NFL career to date. It is important to recognize that all this hype stems from the realization of Robinson's great potential to be a key piece on Washington's defense. Will this potential transform into high performance on the football field? Only time will tell.