Lions rookie DT Robinson proving capable, versatile
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions would prefer their defensive linemen get sacks, but when the pass rush stalls, there's always a plan B.
"We always tell our guys, ‘Hey, if you can’t get there, once you get there if you have an opportunity to hit the quarterback, you hit the quarterback. If not, get a hand up,’ and it has helped," defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has always had a knack for getting his hand in the passing lane. He's been credited with batting down nearly 40 passes in his career and had a big one last Thanksgiving against Minnesota, deflecting a fourth-down throw and forcing a turnover on downs.
But no one has been better at tipping passes at the line for the Lions than rookie A'Shawn Robinson, who has already deflected five.
"A’Shawn has batted balls down that have stopped drives," Austin said. "I think those are invaluable. He does a great job. A lot of times the only way you can bat that ball down is because you’re pushing the pocket and you’re close enough. Most quarterbacks can find the lane and throw it and you don’t get it batted down if you’re still standing at the line of scrimmage."
Robinson, the team's second-round pick out of Alabama, has had a role in the defensive tackle rotation since the start of the season, typically playing between 20-30 snaps. Beyond the batted passes, he's pieced together a solid rookie campaign while transitioning to a completely different style defensive scheme than he played in college. He's recorded 17 tackles, including two sacks and three run stuffs through 11 games.
"He’s been good and steady," coach Jim Caldwell said. "He’s coming along. He’s getting better and better all the time."