Time is running out. And Adrien Robinson knows it.
After being drafted in the fourth round and dubbed the “JPP of Tight Ends” by New York Giants’ General Manger Jerry Reese, Robinson has failed to live up to such lofty expectations. In fact, he’s failed to live up to just about anything at all.
His stat line reads: Preseason foot injury. One game played. One down played. One ACL sprain.
“I’m pretty frustrated,” Robinson said. “There’s nothing you can do about injuries, and that took up my entire second year.”
Now healthy, Robinson hopes this is finally his season. His chance to show the Giants something, anything, to prove he’s what they imagined he’d become three years ago.
“It’s basically time for me to show up or go home,” Robinson said. “That’s my mentality and how I’m looking at it.”
While Robinson wasn’t expected to make much of an impact his rookie year, last season he felt he was finally ready to make some noise on the field. But then came the preseason foot injury that kept him on the injury report into November. When Robinson was able to practice again, he was stuck behind free-agent acquisition Brandon Myers, veteran Bear Pascoe, and fellow second-year player Larry Donnell. He finally saw the field in Week 16, but immediately sprained his knee on the opening kickoff.
Now Myers is in Tampa Bay, Pascoe in Atlanta and for the first time in a long time, Robinson is healthy.
“I’m staying that extra day, watching the extra film, I’m on the elliptical every day trying to get my weight down more,” Robinson said. “I feel I’m more mature and more of a professional now.
“It’s like they laid the opportunity right in front of me. I just have to take it and make the most of it.”
It was long assumed this offseason would feature a few extra bodies being thrust into the tight ends’ meeting room, but few notable additions have been made. Larry Donnell returns, Daniel Fells and Kellen Davis were signed while Xavier Grimble was an undrafted rookie acquisition out of USC.
Discounting Grimble, who has yet to play a down in the NFL, the other three combined for six receptions, 63 yards and one touchdown in 2013. Fells caught four passes for 85 yards in 2012 for the Patriots.
The group hardly strikes fear into the eyes of opponents, something the Giants and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo believe the position will be tasked with next season.
Shedding light for the first time on how the tight end position is expected to be utilized, Robinson said it will bare little similarities to the last few years. In the past, the “tight end” has been an extension of the offensive line, creeping into the flat every now and then as a security blanket for Eli Manning.
Now? Next to the offensive tackle will be just one of the many spots you’ll find the Giants’ tight end.
“We move around a lot more,” Robinson said. “We’re in the backfield, we’re running different routes. For me it will be more fitting for what I do. With this offense the tight end gets a lot more looks.”
The new responsibilities are why one of Robinson’s goals this year was to shed weight. In 2012, the 25-year-old played at roughly 285 pounds. He reported to the Giants offseason-conditioning program at 270 and plans to drop and additional five pounds.
“I can run around, I’m quicker on my routes, in and out of breaks,” Robinson said. “I think I’ll be good at 265. I can run more routes and I’m in better shape.”
Robinson said his weight last year was more on himself than one the Giants wanted him to play at. Maturing as a player and becoming a better “professional” were key motivating factors to drop the 15 extra pounds.
Maturity, being in better shape and a “clean slate” are all things Robinson hopes help him capture the starting tight end position for when the Giants. But the Indiana native also knows this may be it.
If Robinson can’t display the play-making ability the Giants thought he possessed back in 2012, he may meet the same fate as 2011 second-round choice Marvin Austin.
After two injury-riddled seasons that displayed little promise, the Giants cut the defensive tackle prior to the start of last year. Robinson is entering the same training camp that Austin did when his Giants’ career came to an end.
“It’s a huge opportunity that they didn’t draft anybody or bring in any big-name free agents,” Robinson said. “It’s a huge opportunity for me and I have to take advantage.
“It’s my third year. My weight is down, I’ve got a new offensive coordinator, a new tight end coach, and everything is fresh. It’s like a clean slate. I’m ready to go.”