Patrick Robinson appeared to have the starting cornerback position opposite Keenan Lewis sewn up a few weeks ago.
That might not have changed during Thursday’s 22-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the preseason finale, but Robinson also failed to hammer down his point and keep Champ Bailey at bay.
Robinson was routinely picked on by Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor during his 19 snaps on the field. Some of the issues, though, were not entirely of his own doing.
On Baltimore’s first passing play of the game, a third-and-3 attempt, Robinson gave wide receiver Kamar Aiken an 8-yard cushion. On the other side of the field, Bailey and Corey White were with their men at the line of scrimmage. Aiken saw the cushion he was afforded, got beyond the sticks, then curled back to make an uncontested catch for a first down.
The same thing happened on the next play. Bailey was with his man at the line of scrimmage, but on the other side, Robinson gave Aiken a big cushion. Aiken again took off down the field and quickly turned back toward the quarterback once he got beyond the sticks to make the catch. After catching the ball, he used a jab step to juke Robinson and run for a gain of 27 yards.
Robinson is likely being instructed to play his man in this manner and provide him a cushion. Still, it’s his job to make the play, and he never put himself in a position to make the stop.
When Saints coach Sean Payton was discussing the kicker battle earlier this week, he said he would look at efficiency, distance, and get-off time.
We already know that both kickers, incumbent Shayne Graham and challenger Derek Dimke, have connected on all four of their attempts (Graham missed an extra point and Dimke missed a long field goal that was nullified by a penalty), so the next element is get-off time.
And there, on the stopwatches, it appears that Graham holds a slight edge. Graham has posted an average get-off time of .87 seconds, while Dimke comes in at a slightly slower .96 seconds.
The difference in time might seem minor, but that could be the difference between getting a kick off or having it blocked.
But the good news for Dimke is that there are other layers to this battle that might matter more than get-off time.
Give credit to undrafted safety Pierre Warren. He made a nice open-field tackle on Fitzgerald Toussaint that made his first-quarter interception possible. If Warren hadn’t made the tackle, it’s possible that the run would have gone for a touchdown. ... Charles Hawkins had three very nice returns, but some credit is due to Derrick Strozier, who laid some key blocks on each of Hawkins’ three returns. ... Nick Toon ran 72 combined routes in the past three games. He was targeted six times. ... Backup tackle Bryce Harris gave up two quarterback hits, and rookie tackle Tavon Rooks was on the hook for a sack.