Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson hasn’t played in a football game in 18 months because of injuries to both of his pectoral muscles. But you wouldn’t know it by his performance so far in OTAs.
“We have high hopes for Keenan and we love the progress he’s making,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “Just from a short period of time, he’s one of the guys on the field that stand out [like], ‘Is that Keenan again?”
During Thursday’s OTA session, Robinson routinely lined up alongside Perry Riley as the other starting inside linebacker. Robinson will face competition from Darryl Sharpton, Akeem Jordan and possibly Adam Hayward, but it certainly seems as though he’s got the early edge.
Robinson also made the play calls, just as the recently retired London Fletcher did.
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“It’s what I did whenever I was healthy, because I was running with the [second string] behind London,” Robinson said of calling plays. “I’m used to it. It’s the same defense, same calls.”
Robinson’s road back has been a long and, at times, frustrating one. He suffered a torn pectoral in November 2012 and missed the remainder of his rookie season, just as his playing time had begun to increase. The 24-year-old then tore his other pec in training camp last season, forcing him to miss the entire 2013 season.
“It’s hard to be away from something you love for so long, just having to watch and having to rehab and go through the struggle twice,” he said. “Not just once, but twice. I definitely appreciate the game more now. I am definitely glad to be back and thankful for the opportunity they’ve given me.”
Robinson was cleared in February and said he has not suffered any setbacks.
“It feels good,” he said. “Out here, I haven’t noticed anything. It hasn’t held me back on the field or anything like that so it feels like it’s going in the right direction.”
But Robinson also acknowledged that non-contact drills during OTAs are a lot different than training camp and the preseason. Still, he’s optimistic.
“It’s almost June right now [so] I’ve got another two months before we put the pads on and test it out,” he said. “It’s only going to get better and I think that once we get to hitting, I’ll be fine.”
Gruden, meantime, is also eager to see if Robinson can stay healthy.
“Physically, he looks excellent to me,” Gruden said. “He’s running, he’s long and he can run sideline to sideline in pass coverage. He’s disruptive. He gets into zones and is a big guy to throw over. He can cover tight ends, he can cover backs. …He’s doing a great job, so the big thing is [to] keep him healthy. Our strength coaches will be working with him and we’re hoping he has no drawbacks from his injury.”