August 29, 2017
If you like reading practice reports during training camp, you saw that Eagles beat writers unanimously pointed out that free agent cornerback Patrick Robinson was not playing well.
Seemingly every day, Robinson was giving up reception after reception, often times over the top of the defense. It was looking at one point like he might not even make the team after entering camp as the starter. His play was so poor that in a poll in which PhillyVoice asked 30 media personnel to name one player whose stock is up and one whose stock is down 10 days into camp, Robinson led the team in "stock down" votes, with 14.
|CB Patrick Robinson||14|
|WR Shelton Gibson||10|
|RB Donnel Pumphrey||2|
|DT Elijah Qualls||2|
|RB LeGarrette Blount||1|
|CB Rasul Douglas||1|
Since that time, Robinson has played much better in camp and the preseason games, although his improvement wasn't enough for the Eagles to give up a third-round pick and Jordan Matthews to acquire new starting corner Ronald Darby. With Darby at one outside corner spot and Jalen Mills at the other, Robinson has clearly lost his starting job.
"As far as camp, I started off a little slow," Robinson acknowledged. "But the main thing was I kept getting better every day, every day, slowly getting better, and I didn't take any steps back.
Although Robinson's starting job is gone, a new spot in the slot has opened up with 'starting' slot corner Ron Brooks sidelined with an injury. Since the Darby trade, Robinson has been working with the first team defense in the slot, a position that probably made more sense for him all along.
"He's quick," said Jim Schwartz. "I think that helps. He's played nickel before. He played it a little bit at New Orleans, played it at San Diego, and played it a little bit at Indianapolis. It's not a new position to him.
"But he's got really good quickness to be able to handle some man-to-man situations. We also have the ability to play Malcolm Jenkins in there/ and get a bigger guy in there, so I like that complement.
"You look across our division, particularly Dallas, they got some guys that are tough matchups for bigger slots or bigger corners. You need guys that have that short-area quickness. I think Pat has that. He has experience at the position. It's been good getting him up to speed in there."
After mainly playing in the slot – and playing well – in San Diego in 2015, Robinson received a good contract to play in Indianapolis, where he was hampered by injuries.
"I would say that was the most consistent season for me," said Robinson of his time with the Chargers, "just playing great football, I think I was way more consistent."
Back in July, Schwartz noted that the Eagles like matching up Malcolm Jenkins in the slot against bigger receivers.
"There are some times when we have worked Malcolm in that slot, particularly some of the bigger guys," he said. "Good matchup on some of those guys. Like when we played Atlanta with Mohamed Sanu last year, Malcolm winning that battle was a huge part of that win. It might have gone unnoticed, but that was a big part of it. We've got to be prepared for smaller, quicker guys, which we have in our division."
Within the division, the Eagles will have to deal with the Cowboys' Cole Beasley (5'8, 174), the Giants' Sterling Sheppard (5'10, 194), and the Redskins' Jamison Crowder (5'9, 174). Other times, like the example given by Schwartz with Mohamed Sanu (6'2, 215), Jenkins would make more sense.
The Eagles can almost go "slot corner by committee" this season.
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