Questions and Answers with the Washington Redskins
I'd like to extend a warm welcome to all of B/R's readers for the first installment of my One-on-One Series with the Washington Redskins. Throughout this season, I plan to interview numerous players in between contests, so I can provide a first-hand account of their game-day experiences.
Following Week 1's win in New Orleans, I came up with questions for wide receiver Aldrick Robinson. But for Week 2, I want YOU to ask the questions.
All interviews will take place on Monday and Tuesday nights at Velocity Five Sports Restaurants in Landsdowne and Centreville, Va. Both locations are within striking distance of Redskins Park. So please feel free to send questions for next week's guests to: @JoeVersage (on Twitter). You can also input them in the comment section below. Thanks, in advance, for your participation.
B/R Conversation: Week 1
Washington Redskins wide receiver Aldrick Robinson has appeared in just one regular season game. But after his splendid performance in Washington's 40-32 win in New Orleans on Sunday, he may be on the verge of becoming an overnight sensation.
In just more than three quarters of play, the second-year pro caught four passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. He was also targeted two more times by Robert Griffin III, and drew a pass interference penalty that set up another score.
So who is Aldrick? And why did the Redskins call upon him to replace starter Pierre Garçon when he left the game with a foot injury?
If you followed Robinson in the preseason, you would know, but Aldrick is happy to provide answers for those who would like to catch up.
One-on-One with Aldrick Robinson
Q: "How did you and your teammates feel about starting the season in New Orleans at a venue that is traditionally considered one of the toughest places to play?"
A: ““We prepared ourselves for the Superdome. Saints fans love their team and they let us know it with the 'Who Dat, Who Dat.' So we knew what we were up against, but we kept our composure and we quieted the crowd.”
Q: "With the Saints' bounty scandal and without their head coach, did you guys try to take advantage of the situation?"
A: “We figured that they would be well prepared, no matter what. So we stayed focused and we just prepared for them, like none of that stuff ever happened.”
A: “No. I don’t think so because I got hit pretty hard when I went across the middle one time. I knew for a fact that they were [still] trying to bring the hat. They came in with a new defensive coordinator and did some things different, but their mentality was the same.”
Stepping In and Stepping Up
Q: "Did the injury to Pierre Garçon cause concern? One minute he scores and then he’s out of the game. What was the feeling on the bench when you guys heard that he was hurt?"
A: “It shook us up a little bit because that’s our big-time receiver, but the X-rays were negative, so hopefully he’ll be able to get back into action this week or next. But when he’s down, guys like me, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss have to step up.”
Q: "There were fans and media members who did not know who you were, despite a strong preseason. Some of them assumed Moss or Hankerson would spell Garçon. We’re you surprised when you got the call?"
A: “No. I wasn’t surprised because I knew [coming in] that I was going to back up Pierre [at split end]. It was already set that way and the coaches were telling me, ‘Just be ready because you’re one play away.' It happened that way and I took what they said to heart."
Q: "Garçon's 88-yard touchdown gave your team momentum and Robert Griffin III appeared to be comfortable with everything he was asked to do. How did it feel to score a TD on your first career reception?"
A: “It’s great to get in the end zone, but your first one is always the most memorable, and I’ll remember it forever. Robert threw me a perfect ball and made it easy for me, so it was exciting.”
Q: "You were targeted six times. Were you surprised by that amount?"
A: “When Pierre went down, the game plan stayed the same and I’m glad it did. That means that they trust me and have confidence in what I can do. Hopefully I showed them that I can fill in when they need me and we can stick with the game plan.”
Earning One's Keep
Q: "The Redskins drafted you in the sixth round last year (out of SMU), but they put you on the practice squad. Did you have to show off your speed to get an opportunity?"
A: “God has definitely blessed me with speed (4.35 in the 40-yard dash), and I’m happy to show that. When you come from a small school and get drafted in the later rounds, you don’t get that many chances. Last year, I muffed a few punts in the preseason and I was quickly out of there. But this year, I had that in the back of my mind. I know I can’t mess up, so every time I get on the field, I’ve got to make the most of it.”
Q: "You did one thing in the offseason that some Redskins hopefuls did not do. In between minicamp and training camp, you joined RGIII in Waco, Texas for passing drills. What was that like?"
A: “I was in Texas at the time, and my hometown (Waxahachie) is about 45 minutes away from where he was throwing. So I was close and it was convenient for me. So I didn’t really have to go far like some other guys had to. It was in my backyard."
Q: "Do you think having that extra time with RGIII benefited you and helped build his trust in you?"
A: “He showed us where he came from and things that he believed in and we bought into the passing camp. He showed us how to get the best out of it and we built chemistry there. We also did some things you can’t do between the white lines at structured practices.”
Hail to the Field General
Q: "How do the veterans feel about Griffin and his leadership? Some rookie quarterbacks are careful with what they do and say. What is it about RGIII that has made him different as a rookie?"
A: “It’s just his determination. He’s focused and he wants to win now. He wants to develop, but he feels that he’s prepared well enough to win right now. We’re behind him and he’s getting better every day. He just knows what he wants. He even says, ‘No pressure, no diamonds.' That’s how he lives.”
Q: "I recently read an article by Mike Jones of The Washington Post that described a friendly feud between you and RGIII. Apparently, Griffin wanted you to wear a Baylor T-shirt because his Bears beat your SMU Mustangs. Can you tell us about that?"
A: “I was talking noise all week and running my mouth, just trying to support my school because we didn’t play them when I was there. Then they ended up beating us pretty good (59-24) and he was on me about that.”
A: “We're friends. We were at SMU together, so we’re very tight. I was impressed with how they played in the preseason. But at the same time, I knew. I talked to our coaches during the draft process and said, ‘If you’re looking at Richard, he's the real deal. Just get him up here and you’ll see.”
Q: "Fantasy footballers this week have been racing to their waiver wires to pick up running back Alfred Morris. But like you, they don't know much about him. How do you feel about Alfred and what he brings to the offense?"
A: “The guy’s talented and he finishes runs every time. He’s going to be a positive-yardage type of back. He works hard and he’s worked for where he’s at and he’s going to keep doing it. In this league, you’ve got to grow up fast, and that’s what he did. He’s going to be a good back.”
Q: "After making the 53-man roster, you said you were not satisfied. What did you mean by that?"
A: “It wasn’t too much that I was not satisfied. Of course, I was overwhelmed and happy that all my hard work had paid off and I had come a long way. But it was like, ‘This is not it for me.’ Just making the team was not just going to be the end of it. I want to strive to help this team win. It doesn’t stop. I’m going to keep working and try to improve myself, so I can help this team win on Sundays.”
Q: "Have you received praise or reinforcement from veterans on the team?"
A: "Santana [Moss] said that he’s proud of me. I liked when he did that because I look up to him in a lot of ways. Just watching him [perform] and knowing he’s proud of me, makes me feel good.”
A: “Oh, most definitely. He’s a player’s coach. I like being around him and he’s going to get you to that level of performance that he thinks you can play at."
Q: "Coach Shanahan recently told the media that he's 'a big Aldrick Robinson fan.' We're you surprised to hear that?”
A: "He said that? I didn't know. But I know that he’s believed in me the whole time. Every day in practice last year when I was on the practice squad, he said ‘You can be a good player.’ He tells every draft pick that he wants to see the potential he saw when he brought them in. He wants to get that out of us, so it can make his team better.”
Q: "Some players have had trouble learning [offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan's system. What has it been like for you?"
A: “I like the offense. Kyle knows exactly what to call, depending on the situation, and I like the way he runs the offense. I played the spread in college. And it’s kind of fun for a receiver when a defensive back doesn’t know that you’re going to pass it every time. If you can run the ball effectively and catch a DB off guard, that’s when you can catch him sleeping."
Q: "When you came out of college, draft scouts claimed that you were not scared to go across the middle. How do you feel about testing the middle as an NFL wide receiver?"
A: “It’s just another part of the field, man. And I’ll catch it wherever the quarterback throws it. It can be a little noisy in there, so you've got to put your big-boy pads on."
Q: "In a recent column of mine, I compared you to DeSean Jackson. Who do you compare yourself to?"
A: “You can compare me to DeSean if you’d like. He’s not scared to go across the middle. He’s a good receiver with speed and I've got a lot of speed. He’s also a big-play guy, and I think I’m a big-play guy too.”
Q: "If I include your answer in this article and he sees it, do you think he’ll be OK with you when you play the Eagles?"
A: “I’m not going to tell him I want to be like him or anything, so I hope he doesn’t take it the wrong way. But comparisons are everywhere. Former SMU [and Dallas rookie] Cole Beasley is often compared to New England's Wes Welker. So I guess I’m OK with comparisons.”
Q: "You’re going to have to stay on the road for another week. Is it difficult to play two straight weeks away from home to start the season?"
A: “It’s definitely difficult. Road games are always hard to play because you have to deal with the home crowd and all that. But we’ll be ready for it. We prepare for crowd noise, so it shouldn't affect what we plan to do.”
Q: "What do you have in store for St. Louis? Are you much more comfortable now that you’ve got your first game under your belt?"
A: “I definitely feel more comfortable and if I get a chance to play, I’ll take advantage of every opportunity I get.”
Joe Versage is a NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He previously covered the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens as a television beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter at: @JoeVersage
Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via a first-person interview at Velocity Five Sports Restaurant in Landsdowne, Va.