BEREA — A year later, Brian Robiskie may finally be what many experts declared before the Browns drafted him with the 36th pick.
Ready to contribute in the NFL.
Robiskie was widely billed as the most NFL-ready receiver in the 2009 draft class. He started 32 games at Ohio State with 127 catches, 1,866 yards and 24 touchdowns. His dad, Terry, played running back in the NFL and is a longtime receivers coach, including with the Browns.
But Robiskie never made an impact — or the slightest ripple — as a rookie. He made one start and was inactive for five games. He caught just seven passes for 106 yards and no touchdowns.
That’s the backdrop for coach Eric Mangini’s unsolicited comments Thursday morning before practice, as the Browns wrapped up their second week of organized team activities.
“So far Brian Robiskie has had an outstanding camp,” Mangini said. “He’s showed up quite a bit.
“He’s running good routes and made some big plays pretty much every day.”
Robiskie (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) lined up with the first team in three-receiver sets Thursday, joining Mohamed Massaquoi and Chansi Stuckey. Robiskie took Mangini’s comments in stride.
“I don’t think too much is different,” he said. “I’m trying to work hard, I’m trying to get better every day. I’m excited about my opportunity to help us win some games this year.”
Robiskie didn’t want to spend much time reflecting on his lost season. Who can blame him?
“I don’t know what it was last year,” he said. “But for me, last year was last year. I’ve moved on.
“I’m excited about this year. I’m excited about what I can do, I’m excited about our team.”
Part of keeping a positive outlook was not staring at the stat sheet.
“I didn’t get caught up in, ‘Aw, I caught seven balls,’” he said. “I looked at the progression I made.” The strides have been more obvious in the offseason.
“That’s one guy that surprised me and surprised a lot of guys with him stepping up and really coming into his own,” receiver Joshua Cribbs said.
“I’d like to think I’ve definitely grown,” Robiskie said. “I’d like to think we’re a better team and I can keep getting better.”
Last year, Robiskie immediately fell behind Massaquoi, who was drafted 14 picks later, and never caught up. The Browns have chosen not to add a veteran receiver, so Robiskie could join Massaquoi in the starting lineup.
Mangini said having a year in the same system has helped Robiskie hit the ground running. He didn’t have an explanation for the slow start to Robiskie’s career.
“I know you hear me say this all of the time, but there is no one formula for these guys,” Mangini said. “You try a lot of different things to get them to contribute as quickly as possible. We spend a lot of time with the rookies to help do that, but it just sometimes hits at different spots.
“I’ve seen it with a lot of players and pretty much every team I’ve been with. You always try and get that magical combination of installs, meetings, the way to handle it and you work at it, but each person is a little different.”
Robiskie said he hasn’t heard anything specific from the coaches about his improved play. He said they continue to stress the importance of working and staying consistent.
So Robiskie said he’s been concentrating on all aspects of his game, from running routes to catching to run blocking to mastering the playbook. “I don’t think there was any one part of my game I could single out, say this is what I needed to do,” he said. “For me, just making everything better. And I think having a year under my belt will really help.”
It can’t hurt. Especially after a season in which he heard himself repeatedly referred to as a bust.
“I don’t think there was a point for me when I was questioning myself or anything I was doing,” he said. “The biggest thing for me was: What can I do to get better?
“Regardless of what kind of season I had, I was going to take the same approach to the offseason, to try to do certain things to elevate my game and to help our team and help our offense.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.