It started innocently enough.
Jeff Robinson told St. Louis Rams coaches he’d run routes as a tight end for the scout team.
“They needed a guy to help out,” Robinson said. “I was just having fun. I’d catch a pass and talk to the defense, because those were my guys. Then they put me in on short-yardage (last year) and I caught a touchdown pass.”
And that’s how Robinson, former Idaho Vandal, became a current NFL tight end. Yes, his specialty remains long-snapping on punts and kicks. Yes, he made it into the NFL in 1993 with Denver as a defensive end.
But playing tight end has rejuvenated him. That, and the stunning 5-0 start the Rams have put together, outscoring five opponents by 123 points.
“I’m playing 20-25 plays a game,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun, so much more than long-snapping.
“I’m not going to lie, I’ve never been more excited. My friends and family say I’m more excited to talk football. It’s made this year an awful lot of fun and it’s been challenging learning a new position.”
He made the move to tight end after the Rams’ first mini-camp. He’s received added playing time because of an injury to starter Ernie Conwell. Robinson has three catches for 34 yards, including a TD catch against San Francisco.
“It’s a good fit for me,” he says. “I had a lot of success at defensive line at Idaho, but at the next level I wasn’t athletically gifted enough to play defensive line. I was way too small. Now, I’m a good-sized tight end.”
On what appears to be a fine football team. The Rams are the NFL’s lone unbeaten. If they stay healthy, Robinson likes their chances.
“Everyone’s putting up their Rams stuff. Everyone’s on the bandwagon and we keep piling up cars,” says Robinson, who was married in July of ’98. “We were terrible last year, to be honest with you. The year before we were 2-2 and lost eight in a row. It’s been two long years. For us to start the way we did, everybody’s rejuvenated.”
Robinson hasn’t missed a game due to injury in seven NFL seasons. He’s only had one bad snap, during his rookie year, in those seven years (“Yeah, thanks for asking,” he jokes).
He knows his value as a snapper is why he’s still in the league, but tight end has opened his eyes to a new world.
“I don’t think I’ll ever quit snapping, but this (tight end) certainly helps me being able to play,” says Robinson, who recently bought a house in St. Louis. “Just getting out there
is so much fun.”
What would be even more enjoyable? An end reverse pass play, of course. He’s lobbied coaches to add that jewel to the playbook. “No luck yet,” he laughed.