Denard Robinson struggles in debut as punt returner at Senior Bowl
MOBILE, Ala. -- Denard Robinson, still bothered by nerve damage in his right elbow, couldn't do much at receiver during his first day of Senior Bowl practice.
But he was able to field punts -- and did so poorly.
The former Michigan quarterback fielded eight punts during the North team's practice Monday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. He caught just three of them.
One of the punts was uncatchable. On the other four misses, Robinson fumbled two and and misjudged the depth of two.
Robinson, though, remains undeterred.
"Yeah, I got to get better at those," he told MLive.com shortly after the workout. "It's hard to be a good punt catcher. You can't just catch them -- it's not that easy."
Robinson, projected as high as a second-round draft choice, is here in Mobile with a lot to prove -- which is a nice way of saying he has a lot to gain, and a lot to lose.
He was a record-setting quarterback for the Wolverines, leaving as the school's all-time leader in touchdowns and yardage. He's the NCAA leader for quarterback rushing yards.
But Robinson's future is not at quarterback. It's at receiver, likely. And, just like most receiver prospects, he can help or hurt his stock by what he does on special teams.
That's especially true for him, since so much remains unknown about him as a receiver.
Robinson shagged punts and kicks during Michigan's bowl practices, but never appeared there in a game Now, it's apparent why: He's raw.
Robinson's first public audition at punt returner, under the direction of the Oakland Raiders' coaching staff and in front of personnel from every NFL team, was riddled with mistakes.
"I misjudged 'em," said Robinson, who was upbeat despite the struggles. "Once I get going and get in the groove with it, I’ll be all right.
“It’s going to be a work in progress. I just got to keep working and get better.”
Robinson, it must be noted, already has the hard part down: With the ball in his hands, his explosiveness is transcendent. But he looked awkward fielding the ball and must show scouts something more if he is to maximize his draft potential.
"What I would say to Denard is it's a process, and it all plays out over time," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of Robinson's struggles. "You can't get too high or too low. Stay even, and nothin' matters really. Just stay day-to-day, snap-to-snap, meeting-to-meeting until you get drafted. You got time.
"But the bottom line is: He's got to show people he can catch punts and/or return kicks."
Robinson and the North team return to practice at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The Senior Bowl is at 4 p.m. Saturday on NFL Network.
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