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How good can Aldrick Robinson be?

How good can Aldrick Robinson be?

The Redskins signed Aldrick Robinson to a one-year contract sometime last week. There was no doubt that Robinson would be back. Although he technically was a free agent since his contract expired he has only two accrued years of NFL service. That meant he was an exclusive-rights free agent and his options were to stay with the Redskins or find something else to do for a living. With the contract coming in at $570,000, the minimum for a player with two years in league, Robinson made the wise choice and signed with the Redskins.

In order to collect on that contract Robinson has to make the team and that is not a given. Any player who was drafted by the previous regime and has just 29 receptions in 31 games played will have to fight off challengers to get a roster spot.

It’s a no-risk proposition for Jay Gruden and the Redskins. There is no guaranteed money in the deal and if they decide he isn’t what they are looking for they can release him.

He will get a look for a roster spot for the same reason he was drafted, his speed. He ran a 4.35 in the 40 at the combine and the Redskins took him based on the old adage that they could teach him how to improve his route running and ball catching but they can’t teach him how to run that 4.35.

In three years with the Redskins (he spent all but one game of his rookie season on the practice squad) his progress in moving from “wow, he’s fast” to “hey, he’s a quality NFL receiver” has been spotty.

For most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons Robinson didn’t get much of an opportunity to play. In 2012 he played 96 snaps the first two games and after that he got more than 15 snaps in a game just once. It looked like he was going to take off after catching touchdown bombs of 49 yards against the Eagles and 68 yards in Dallas to help start a season-ending seven-game winning streak. But Robinson played a total of 21 snaps in the last five games and was not targeted once.

He continued to play sparingly in 2013 until Leonard Hankerson suffered a knee injury in Week 11 in Philadelphia. He started to take advantage of his opportunity. He caught 11 passes for 213 yards (19.4 yards per catch) in the last four games of the season. One encouraging aspect of his performance was that eight of those receptions were good for between 10 and 20 yards. That means that he was making catches on intermediate routes and getting some yards after the catch (44 per Pro Football Focus) and he wasn’t just going deep.

Can Robinson duplicate what he did in the latter part of 2013 for the entire 2014 season? We will find out. If he makes the team—and challengers for his roster spot could be brought in via free agency and the draft—he will benefit from Jay Gruden’s tendency to rotate his receivers. Robinson should get his chance and we’ll see if he can convert from fast guy to fast NFL receiver.

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Jay Gruden at Senior Bowl: Redskins 'totally anticipate' Kirk Cousins will return in 2017

Jay Gruden at Senior Bowl: Redskins 'totally anticipate' Kirk Cousins will return in 2017

MOBILE – Jay Gruden provided a glimmer of optimism for Redskins fans freaked out about Kirk Cousins' contract situation. 

"I totally anticipate him coming back to the Washington Redskins," Gruden said. 

The Redskins coach talked from the sidelines of the Senior Bowl where he and much of the team's staff were scouting college seniors. 

Gruden explained he had texted back and forth with Cousins a few times this offseason and looked forward to watching him play in the Pro Bowl. 

Since Gruden named Cousins starter in 2015, the quarterback had passed for more than 9,000 yards and twice broken Skins franchise passing records. 

Some indications of a long term deal for Cousins land in the $120 million range, but the Washington organization also has the flexibility to use the franchise tag this season at a cost of nearly $24 million. 

MORE REDSKINS: Who else might want to trade for Cousins?

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The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 5 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Lions Week 7

0:22 left in Q4, Lions ball at the Redskins 18, 3rd and 10, Redskins leading 17-13

Matthew Stafford pass short left to Anquan Boldin for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

More Redskins: Podcast--All eyes now on Cousins

Tandler: The Redskins had just taken the lead on a nifty 19-yard option run by Kirk Cousins with 1:05 left to play. All they had to do was keep the Lions out of the end zone but the defense was not up to the task. In fact, it was laughably easy for Stafford. The first three times he dropped back he completed passes for 23, 14, and 20 yards and just like that the Lions were in the red zone. It looked for a minute like the Redskins might hang on as two passes went incomplete. But on third down Stafford found Boldin open inside the five and the defense couldn’t get there quickly enough to keep him out of the end zone.

Related: Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky

Finlay: 65 seconds was all the 'Skins defense needed to preserve a win by holding the Lions without a touchdown. 65 seconds away from a five-game win streak, and knowing what we do now, a playoff berth. The Redskins defense couldn't stop Stafford, or Boldin, and lost in Detroit. A gut wrenching loss as the momentum on the Washington sideline seemed incredibly high just minutes before when Cousins ran in what looked like the game-winning score. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!