RENTON, Wash. – Alton Robinson isn’t one of the new players on the Seahawks’ roster like free-agent signee Uchenna Nwosu or second-round pick Boye Mafe, whom they are counting on to revive their pass rush in 2022.
But Robinson considers himself a new player this year, having not only shed some weight but also a thought process that he felt weighed him down a year ago.
Cutting 15 pounds from his listed 259 and playing with a freer mind has turned him into one of the early standouts of Seahawks training camp.
“Another guy who has really surprised us is Alton Robinson,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said recently. “Alton came back in a different body type; he lost about 15 pounds but is really stout, strong and explosive. He’s done a nice job starting up camp so far.”
Robinson made four sacks as a rookie in 2020 after arriving as a fifth-round pick out of Syracuse, one in the fourth quarter of the 20-9 win over the Rams that clinched the NFC West title. He stamped himself as player who looked like he could be an even more significant contributor in 2021.
Robinson made just one sack last year.
While Robinson’s playing time became a heavily debated topic among Seahawks fans, the lack of use wasn’t the reason for Robinson’s statistical drop-off.
He played 371 snaps in 16 games in 2021 compared to 336 in 14 as a rookie, and that included little playing time in two early games when he dealt with a minor knee injury.
Robinson admits he just didn’t play as well.
“I think at times I was trying to do too much,” Robinson said. “I just have to trust myself and my instincts because as Pete always says, we are good enough. … This game is never going to be perfect, and I had a thing where I was always trying to be right. And I realized you are never going to always be right. If I end up on the ball, then I’m right.”
A native of Converse, Texas – about 15 miles from San Antonio – Robinson said he also took a different approach to his offseason, saying he decided to be “more disciplined” with his diet.
“I didn’t hit the barbecue joints as much,” he said .
Robinson said he dropped the weight because he felt there were some areas of his game last year that were “restricted” at his old weight.
“Let’s see what I can do to get those unlocked,” he said he decided.
While Robinson is listed as a defensive end, he is more accurately an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme that the Seahawks will emphasize this year under first-year defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt. Robinson will be asked to drop into pass coverage, and being a little lighter afoot won’t hurt.
Robinson said he dropped into coverage occasionally at Syracuse but never had to be “as detail oriented as I am now” in learning the nuances of it.
“I’m still learning,” he said. “But I like it.”
As for how the rest of his role might change this year? Robinson said nothing other than, “I will be in the mix a little bit more.”
And, he hopes, in opponents’ backfield more as well.
Hurting on the corners
Cornerback Artie Burns, who injured his groin in practice Tuesday, did not practice on Wednesday. Carroll did not talk to the media, so there were no injury updates, but Carroll had indicated Tuesday that Burns had an injury that might take some time to heal.
Cornerbacks Sidney Jones IV (concussion) and John Reid (groin) also remain out. The injuries meant that Tariq Woolen again got the reps with the starting offense at right cornerback with Coby Bryant and Michael Jackson splitting the reps on the left side.
Bryant lined up first when the first-team defense took the field, but Jackson rotated in throughout.
To add depth, the Seahawks signed free agent Jameson Houston. Houston, who played at Florida A&M, saw action in three games with the Eagles in 2020, with 22 snaps on defense, according to Pro Football Reference.
Houston played for the Michigan Panthers for the USFL earlier this year. He got some snaps Wednesday in team drills at right corner. The Seahawks cut offensive lineman Keenan Forbes to make room for Houston on the roster.