Bob Wojnowski, John Niyo and Justin Rogers talk about what went wrong against the Panthers and what has to go right against the Saints on Sunday. Detroit News
Allen Park — The Lions understand it will be difficult to replace defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who was lost to a season-ending bicep injury this week, but they don’t want to compound the problem by putting added stress on second-year defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson.
The Lions like the way Robinson has performed through five games and don’t want him thinking he has to do more, play outside schematic expectations, to compensate for Ngata’s absence.
“That’s one of the things you can certainly get into when all of a sudden you think a guy has got to play differently than he’s played before,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “I’m anticipating (Robinson) was giving us the absolute best he could give us when he was out there prior to that, and what we need is guys that maybe are taking Haloti’s spot, not necessarily guys that have already been on the field, to be able to step in and do their job, and do their job well more so than anything else.”
As with many defensive tackles, stuffing the stat sheet isn’t Robinson’s forte. Through five games, he has 10 tackles, no sacks and one forced fumble. He’s coming off a game where he played a career-high 46 snaps, but didn’t record a single stat.
Conversely, showing how difficult it is to gauge a defensive lineman’s impact based on the box score, Pro Football Focus gave Robinson’s his best single-game grade last Sunday.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin understands defensive tackles spend more time creating opportunities for teammates, but he is hoping to see a few more big plays from Robinson as the season progresses.
“We all want guys to play better, but I think he’s played well,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “He’s very competitive, he hustles hard, looking for maybe a few more splash plays, a few more stats, which I think will come.”
One area where Robinson’s game is down from his rookie season is batted passes. The 322-pounder has a knack for getting his hands in the passing lane, going back to his days at Alabama. He deflected seven passes as a rookie, and two during limited action during the preseason, but has just one batted pass through five games in 2017.