For all the chatter this training camp about the Packers’ young wide receivers group – how they will fare and who will make the team – one player not with the team may have the biggest impact this season.
Koren Robinson would be easy to write off considering the promise the team’s young receivers have shown, but the talent he possesses still warrants him a shot to come back. Serving a one-year league suspension, he is eligible for reinstatement in late September. He was charged on multiple accounts stemming from driving while impaired last year in Minnesota, his second such offense in two years.
That Robinson was living in the Green Bay area this summer and was out on work release before serving his most recent jail time in Minnesota suggests the Packers are at least interested in bringing him back. They should be.
Robinson would probably rate overall as the second best receiver the Packers have, not knocking anyone on the roster currently. He just has a special ability. For that, and a seemingly genuine want to turn his life around, he can be an asset to the Packers.
Robinson came to Green Bay shortly after the 2006 regular season began in what seemed like an act of desperation from the Packers. They needed wide receivers and signed Robinson on Sept. 12, even though they knew he faced a likely suspension. He played in just four games catching seven passes before being forced to leave the team by the NFL.
Re-signing Robinson should have little to do with who the Packers have on their roster by late September. Because of an unresolved kick and punt return situation, they will likely head into the regular season with six wide receivers on the active roster and at least another on the practice squad. Donald Driver’s nagging shoulder injury from a season ago has to be insured for, thus play-makers at wide receiver are in high demand.
The Packers have to be pleased already by what they have seen from their depth at wide receiver. Starter Greg Jennings would have had a potentially spectacular rookie year had it not been for an ankle injury that hampered him, and rookie James Jones has been the talk of camp. Holdovers Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holiday provide great value and specific talents as backups, and veteran Robert Ferguson is still trying to find his breakthrough.
Though all of the above receivers (and others) may be worthy of a roster spot, none possess Robinson’s ability. His combination of speed, size, and aggressiveness takes him a step above. If or when he establishes a rapport with Brett Favre, he gives the Packers an added weapon they desperately need. Even if Jones, or running backs Vernand Morency and Brandon Jackson come through, the Packers still need more punch on offense to be a playoff contender.
Perhaps most importantly, the Packers need a special teams return man they can count on. They have been deficient in that area for years. Robinson has previously made the Pro Bowl as a returner and could give the Packers some stability in that role. Though he was with the team just a quarter of a season in 2006, he was the second-leading kick returner (12 returns for 253 yards). He is simply the team’s best option.
In a perfect world, the Packers would get a fit and ready Robinson back as their No. 3 receiver behind Driver and Jennings by mid-season. Jones would likely man the fourth receiver spot with Martin and Holiday playing specialized, potentially game-changing-type roles. All of sudden the Packers wide receiver corps looks like it could do some damage with the right approach.
Robinson’s presence would benefit the Packers’ receiving corps on the field as much as a key injury would hurt the group. He is a difference-maker. General manager Ted Thompson should still have him on the radar because he can help the Packers in a number of ways.
Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.