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Lyons Yellin / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: lyellin@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

NEW ORLEANS --After watching the BaltimoreRavens exploit cornerback Patrick Robinson during their 22-13 win over the New Orleans Saints last night, a review of the game film tells a different story. Maybe we shouldn't be so hasty to criticize the oft-injured and much improved Saints cornerback.

I've been adamant in my belief that Robinson is the clear-cut No. 2 starter opposite Keenan Lewis. From everything I've seen of him during camp, it's a no-brainer. In fact, if I was giving out awards, he'd win two: most improved and biggest surprise.

I didn't expect much from Robinson before the season began. How could I? There were legitimate concerns about whether he was healthy after a major knee injury ended his season in Week 2 last year. Furthermore, Robinson had yet to live up to the expectations that inevitably follow first-round draft picks, which he was in 2010.

Indeed, Robinson has been one of the Saints' pleasant surprises this year. When healthy he missed nearly two weeks with a hamstring injury Robinson has demonstrated excellent coverage skills and a knack for pass breakups. Though he didn't play in the second preseason outing against Tennessee, versus St. Louis and Indianapolis, Robinson blanketed his man on nearly every play and was thus hardly tested.

Needless to say, backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor didn't get the memo on Thursday . As I watched Taylor and what appeared to be a host of Baltimore's backup receivers seemingly exploit Robinson last night, some genuine doubt crept in, and admittedly, I began to question whether I had prematurely penciled him in as a starter.

But after a conversation with one of my media cohorts who urged me to examine the film, which I did, I won't abandon my initial evaluation. I still believe, despite last night's rocky showing, Robinson is the Saints' most capable cornerback not named Lewis.

Sure, the Ravens picked on him during their opening drive on two plays, in particular. But, after further review, it wasn't as bad as it seemed.

  1. On third and 3 from their own 29 with the ball on the left hash, the Ravens lined up on in an offset I-formation to the left side with Robinson defending wide receiver Kamar Aiken on the short side of the field. Robinson lined up seven yards off the line and had inside safety help from Vinnie Sunseri.The Saints, meanwhile, were in their nickel coverage with Corey White showing blitz on the right side and Jairus Byrd offering deep safety help. Aiken ran a five-yard comeback. However, when Robinson identified the route and planted to make a play towards the receiver, he slipped, which allowed Aiken to catch and turn upfield for a 13-yard gain.

  2. Just two plays later, on first and 10 from the Ravens 43, Robinson again lined up seven yards off he line, only this time he didn't have safety help and wasn't ready for the snap. Robinson looked to be startled when the play began and was woefully out of position despite attempting to quickly adjust. This time, Aiken, who ran a 10-yard stop route, caught the pass from Taylor and turned upfield for a 27-yard gain.

On both plays, Robinson looked to be more concerned with keeping the receiver in front of him, which made him susceptible to both type of routes. I believe this had more to do with the defensive call than Robinson's coverage ability. Let's face it, last night's defense was as vanilla as you'll see from Rob Ryan all season.

The Ravens threw Robinson's way twice more before he left the game in the second quarter. On the first attempt, Robinson actually had good coverage, however Aiken got inside position and Taylor delivered a pinpoint throw for an eight-yard gain. Finally, Taylor completed an 11-yard pass to Deonte Thompson, after which Robinson immediately made the tackle. As with all four balls thrown his way, Robinson seemed utterly focused on not allowing a big play.

After reviewing the film, I still believe Robinson is the Saints' best option opposite Lewis, especially with Champ Bailey fighting a nagging foot injury.

I imagine once the season begins, the Saints will ask Robinson, or whomever plays that No. 2 cornerback position, to utilize more press coverage so as not to allow opposition receivers the space to operate. From everything I've seen from Robinson during the preseason, though, he seems comfortable in the team's more aggressive sets.

And let's be honest, with so many starters resigned to the bench for a meaningless preseason game, the Saints defense was but a modicum of itself. Hence, I'm not willing to let four receptions alter my perception of Robinson. I'll take a more measured approach, as I'm sure the Saints coaches are doing much the same.
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