BEREA, Ohio — Rookie minicamp is about opportunity, and that’s why Robbie Rouse is here.
Now, Rouse has to make enough plays to stay around longer.
He’s listed as a tryout player on the Cleveland Browns minicamp roster, but the former Fresno State running back is in Berea this weekend because the Browns plan to sign him to a contract.
After trying out last weekend with the Minnesota Vikings, Rouse was going to participate in another tryout this weekend with the Dallas Cowboys. But his agent called and said the Browns were offering a chance that included a deal, and Rouse didn’t need to think twice.
“I just showed up ready to work,” Rouse said on Friday. “I’ve never been here; never even been to this part of the country. All you can ask for in my spot is a chance, and I’m glad to have one.”
Rouse, who’s generously listed at 5-foot-6, ran for 4,168 yards and 33 touchdowns over his last three college seasons. He was a late add to the Senior Bowl last January and participated in the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
That made it extra disappointing when his phone didn’t ring two weekends ago at the conclusion of the NFL Draft. But he said getting his first NFL experience at the Vikings tryout gave him an advantage heading into this weekend, and the Browns offering a contract gave him confidence.
A native of San Diego, Rouse admitted that it was “cool” being coached by Browns offensive coordinator and longtime San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner.
“Maybe he sees me as another Darren Sproles,” Rouse said. “It’s up to me to do whatever the coaches ask. I know I’m not guaranteed anything. I just feel fortunate for the shot to show what I can bring.”
The full squad — on an optional with an asterisk basis — is due in this week for the start of three weeks of organized team activity practices. Rookie minicamp ends on Sunday, and Rouse hopes his journey is just beginning.
“I do hide behind the linemen,” Rouse said. “Here, they’re even bigger. I’m looking forward to getting going.”