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Should Elbow Nerve Injury Have Kept Denard Robinson out Longer?

Oct 27, 2012; Lincoln, NE, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) sits up after being injured during the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterFebruary 26, 2013

Denard Robinson's arm is still hurt. It's been hurt for months, and it won't be healed by tomorrow. He injured it on what looked like a routine fall to the turf at Nebraska in a late October matchup, one the Huskers would pull away with after Robinson's injury. That was nearly four months ago to the day, and the healing still continues.

In fact, Robinson is still nowhere near 100 percent, according to AnnArbor.com, and surgery may yet still be on the table. Here's more:

Denard Robinson remains only about 60 percent recovered from the nerve damage he sustained in his right elbow nearly four months ago.

The former Michigan quarterback said Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that surgery could now be required.

"Nerves is a thing you can't really put a timeframe on," Robinson said. "It takes time to heal, and if I have to have surgery, I have surgery."

Sixty percent is, obviously, not very good. It affected Robinson's play at the Senior Bowl and it's affecting his performance at the NFL combine. As such, it's almost certainly going to affect his draft stock. 

There was also this note tucked in, dating back to last month when Robinson was still training for the Senior Bowl: "He said last month at the Senior Bowl that he likely delayed his recovery by playing in Michigan's final three games."

More here.

If that's the case, then it's imperative to look at what Robinson brought to the table in those last three games and whether it ended up being in his—or even the team's—best interest to come back so soon.

Michigan went 1-2 in those games, a blowout against Iowa on Senior Day followed by a loss at Ohio State and a heartbreaker against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl to finish off the year. Robinson was moderately productive in all three games, totaling 46 rushes for 320 yards and a score altogether. He was Michigan's leading rusher in all three contests, even as he was clearly limited in what he could do with the ball in his hands.

Now, this is clearly using the benefit of hindsight, but as mentioned before, Michigan's record in those three games was 1-2. And had Robinson been on the bench letting his arm heal, Michigan's record would almost certainly have been...1-2.

If anything, the lack of creativity with his usage under center against Ohio State may have hampered Michigan's offense in the second half, as the Buckeyes rallied to win 26-21. But Robinson also ripped off a brilliant long touchdown to finish off the first half, so we won't cast too many aspersions against Shoelace for that one.

We get that Robinson wanted to play, however, and it's hard to keep a football player off the field if he's valuable to the team and there's an avenue through which he can play. Robinson had to give up his quarterback spot for good, which must have devastated the senior captain as his players fought through the end of a brutal schedule. But he did figure out a way to play, and that's great for him.

It's just that he was largely ineffectual, at least when it comes to the final record, and that ineffectuality is hard to square with his current struggles to prove to the NFL he's physically capable of being what they need him to be at the next level.

Again: This is all hindsight. And if Brady Hoke had told Robinson, "Look, we're probably going 1-2 either way, why don't you just sit these games out," he'd have either been fired or ripped limb from limb by Michigan fans (oh, they're docile now, but it's the docile ones that break bad). We get why Robinson played and that's just how it is in this sport.

It's just that Robinson's reaping the repercussions of that decision to get back out on the field at the expense of his healing process now, and those repercussions are significant. As we're now seeing.

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