RICHMOND – Redskins linebackers on Friday are trying to push through the disappointment of Keenan Robinson’s torn left pectoral muscle, which will sideline him for months and possibly the whole season. Robinson was hurt on a seemingly innocuous play Thursday in the first full practice of training camp.
“When we heard the news, man, it’s devastating,” Brian Orakpo said. “You don’t want to look too sad because then it makes his morale down. We’ve got to make sure we pick him up.”
A person with knowledge of the injury confirmed it and the prognosis. The Redskins have not confirmed it, but coach Mike Shanahan is expected to address Robinson’s status Friday evening. Robinson declined to speak to reporters after Friday’s walkthrough, which he did not participate in, saying the team had not permitted him to do so.
The Redskins project Robinson, a fourth-round pick out of Texas last year, to be a future starter next to inside linebacker Perry Riley. The team still hopes he will eventually replace London Fletcher when Fletcher retires.
Fletcher, 38, is in the last year of his contract, so this year was critical to Robinson’s development. Coaches believe he is a smart player. They like his length and athleticism in pass coverage, and they expected him to play in passing and goal line situations this season.
Riley believes the other linebackers have a responsibility to ensure Robinson still gets something out of the season.
“We’re going to need Keenan for the future,” he said. “He’s a smart kid, a hard worker. He’ll bounce back from it. I have no doubt in my mind.”
Robinson’s absence increases the possibility that special teams standout Bryan Kehl will make the team.
“I’ve got the same mindset that I had yesterday, which is to just be the best player I can be and let the coaches make whatever decisions they make,” Kehl said.
Kehl’s focus this preseason is to finish plays. He failed to make the final 53-man roster last year after dropping two interceptions and came up just shy of several sacks. Regardless, he said he was “shocked” he did not make the team. He returned, though, when the Redskins claimed him off waivers last Nov. 29, a week after Robinson tore his right pectoral muscle on Thanksgiving against Dallas.
“With what happened last year, I don’t really know how much better I could have played in the preseason,” Kehl said. “I just look at maybe some little things that I could have done better and this year make it a goal to not let that happen.”
Roddrick Muckelroy, whom the Redskins signed four days after Robinson tore his right pec, also could benefit. Muckelroy is not as fast as some of Washington’s other linebackers, though, and that suits him more to Fletcher’s MIKE linebacker position than Riley’s JACK position.
Cincinnati in 2010 drafted Muckelroy in the fourth round, only 27 spots after the Redskins took Riley at the start of the round.
The Redskins have three undrafted free agent inside linebackers in camp. Will Compton, Marvin Burdette and Jeremy Kimbrough likely are competing for one spot on the practice squad.