Cornerback Patrick Robinson is showing some initial signs of promise that perhaps he can indeed turn his season around and live up to expectations, both his own and those of the New Orleans Saints.
After enduring a painful demotion from the starting lineup earlier this season, Robinson got the chance to get back out on the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday due to injuries to other teammates. Robinson made the most of the opportunity, snagging the defense’s first interception of the season, in spectacular over-the-shoulder fashion.
"He played real well," head coach Sean Payton said. "I was really excited to see him make that play. That was a big play for us."
The Saints have been waiting patiently â and then not so patiently come Week 3 of this season, for Robinson to live up to his draft status and develop into a defensive force in the backfield. Robinson was the Saints first-round pick in 2010.
Ahead of the Saints Week 3 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, the Saints bumped Robinson from his starting role in favor of Corey White. Rookie Brian Dixon spelled White as Robinson was relegated to special teams action.
The Saints didn’t quit on Robinson though. Coaches and players both publicly and privately lauded Robinson’s natural talents and expressed confidence that he would find his rhythm.
Payton had a one-on-one sit down with Robinson where he gave him a long list of cornerbacks who have faced adversity and lost a lead role â only to come back stronger and better.
Robinson paid attention to that talk and has kept the right attitude about how to duplicate the results of some of the cornerbacks on Payton’s list, such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Tim Jennings, Kareem Jackson, Ike Taylor and Alterraun Verner.
"He’s really focused on whatever the assignment is we give him on game day," Payton said. "That’s one thing I like about him a lot. In practice, his attitude, the adversity – he’s handled that well."
Although the Black and Gold has been waiting for several years for Robinson to make a jump, they possibly need it now more than ever. In the absence of veteran play makers such as Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans’ secondary has been struggling all season. The recent, season-ending injury to safety Jairus Byrd makes the Saints’ defensive backfield even more porous.
The Saints now begin their bye-week ahead of a road trip up North in Week 7 to face the Detroit Lions and Matt Stafford, whose new offensive coordinator is Joe Lombardi, the former Saints quarterbacks coach. Robinson’s resurgence couldn’t come at a better time, if he can keep the momentum going.