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Robinson Agrees to Terms
As a tribute to all the dirty work that Michael Robinson does so willingly – and so well – his fellow running backs presented him with a suede tool belt late last season.
Asked about the significant of the gift, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl fullback offered, “This is my tool belt. It signifies that I come to work and I can fix a lot of problems. That’s going to be in my locker forever now.”
The symbolic belt has been hanging on the same hook in Robinson’s cubicle in the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center since the season ended. And there it will stay, as Robinson agreed to terms on Friday to remain with the Seahawks.
Retaining Robinson is a continuation of the approach coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have taken to their third free-agency period together. “Take care of our own,” as Schneider puts it.
The Seahawks’ two biggest priorities were keeping leading rusher Marshawn Lynch, without resorting to using the franchise tag; and retaining disruptive defensive end Red Bryant. They accomplished both. They’ve also have reached agreements with linebacker Heath Farwell, who led the NFL with 21 special teams tackles last season; right tackle Breno Giacomini, who started the final seven games last season; and offensive linemen Paul McQuistan, who started 10 games last season at three different positions.
And now Robinson, who ended up playing in the Pro Bowl after his first full season as a true fullback. Not too shabby for a guy who played quarterback at Penn State and then carved out a niche for himself in the NFL by being a core special teams player and versatile back in four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and his first season with the Seahawks, who signed Robinson just before the start of the 2010 season after he had been released by the 49ers.
“Mike-Rob is what they call a ’tweener; you’re big enough to play fullback but small enough to be a tailback,” Justin Griffith said in December, when the former NFL fullback was wrapping up his season-long stay as a coaching intern with the Seahawks.
“You’re an effective blocker, but not a bruising blocker, so you have to rely on your technique and how you do things. Mike has done a good job of correcting and improving his technique. He’s been a football player, and he’s an athlete. If you’re an athlete, you can teach yourself how to do anything. And now that he’s teaching himself how to play the position, he’s becoming a lot better.”
Last season, a countless number of lead blocks by Robinson helped Lynch rush for a career-high 1,204 yards – and become the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Shaun Alexander in 2005 – by taking on some of the best middle linebackers the NFL has to offer.
It started in the season opener with the 49ers’ Patrick Willis; continued in Week 10 with some memorable run-ins against the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis; and also included mano-a-mano matchups with the Washington Redskins’ London Fletcher (Week 12), Chicago Bears’ Brian Urlacher (Week 15) and a rematch with Willis (Week 16). Between them, these four have been to 29 Pro Bowls, not to mention combining for 5,752 tackles.
“I’ve never had to do this type of stuff before, having played quarterback and running back,” Robinson said as he was preparing to face Urlacher and Willis in a seven-day span late in the season. “The biggest change is the hitting every day. Knowing who to block wasn’t hard. It was just the fact of the repetitions of actually doing it.
“The more reps you get, the better you get at it.”
Robinson was allowed to do other things, occasionally. He carried the ball four times. He caught nine passes. He returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. He made 10 coverage tackles on special teams.
But mostly, he blocked and paved the way for Lynch. And he did it well enough to earn the tool belt from the teammates and a new contract from the team.