Rams rookie Robinson relegated to bench

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
9:30
AM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For the better part of the past three weeks, it's become increasingly apparent that Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams, was not going to be a Day 1 starter at any position on the offensive line.

Robinson
In response to a question about Robinson's progress, Rams coach Jeff Fisher confirmed what was already suspected late Wednesday afternoon.

"We made the decision that in the opener that we're better off going with experience," Fisher said. "Doesn't mean to say that he won't play in the game, but we're going to go with guys that have a lot of snaps under their belt right now.”

And by that, Fisher means the Rams are going to go with Rodger Saffold at left guard and Davin Joseph at right guard. With Jake Long and Joe Barksdale penciled in at left and right tackle, respectively, that means Robinson's role in Week 1 will be limited to playing in a swing role off the bench.

That move has been in the making since the third preseason game against the Cleveland Browns when the Rams opened the game with Robinson not in the starting lineup. That happened sooner than expected when Saffold left with an ankle injury.

Robinson spent the preseason and training camp playing left guard and left tackle, never settling into a position, which almost certainly made his transition to the league that much harder.

Fisher said Wednesday that's not the case.

“Nothing hurts him at all," Fisher said. "It does not hurt him at all. I was told Orlando Pace, first player in the draft didn't play till Week 5. There's no issue here. He's going to be an outstanding player. Our focus right now is putting the guys on the field that we think gives us our best chance to win right now.”

What's left unsaid there is that Pace was also a holdout in his rookie season and didn't sign his contract until the day of the team's final preseason game in 1997. He didn't have the benefit of the full offseason program and first three weeks of training camp. Then again, he also wasn't asked to play multiple positions when he did arrive.

Of course, none of that is to say that Robinson isn't going to turn into a good player in the NFL. It was no secret he was going to need refinement upon entering the league from a run-oriented offense at Auburn in which he did little in the way of pass protection. Drafting beyond the scope of a player's rookie season is fine, even logical, but the same can be said for putting that player in one spot and letting him develop so he can contribute right away.

To this point, Robinson seems like a hard worker with the desire to be great. Whether he will be or not, nobody knows. But even if Fisher insists there's nothing wrong, it's more than fair for Rams fans to be disappointed that the No. 2 overall pick in the draft isn't in the starting lineup in Week 1.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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