<
>

Greg Robinson's move a work in progress

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- At a time of year when nearly every NFL player is said to be making some sort of progress, "ahead of schedule," and/or in the best shape of his life, St. Louis RamsSt. Louis Rams rookie offensive lineman Greg Robinson is frustrated and he's not afraid to say it.

The No. 2 overall pick in May's NFL draft is making the transition from left tackle to starting left guard for the Rams. It's a move that has Robinson openly acknowledging that it's a work in progress -- progress that isn't coming fast enough for his taste.

"It's frustrating that I'm not up to pace right now because the playbook is more intense and things are changing but once I get back to where I'm comfortable, things will calm down and I can be myself out there," Robinson said.

When asked why he's frustrated given that he's participated in less than a dozen NFL practices, Robinson offered another refreshingly honest assessment of his progress.

"I didn't know what to expect, honestly," Robinson said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself because I like to challenge myself. It's something I want to do and just stand out to the coaches and let them be comfortable with their choice."

Robinson's desire to learn his new position hasn't been limited to words during the team's organized team activities. He's spent plenty of time picking the brains of veteran linemen such as Jake Long, Rodger Saffold and Scott Wells as well as offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. He's also stayed on the field after practice in order to get extra work.

From the outside, the move from left tackle, a position widely regarded as the toughest to play because of the athleticism and ability of the top pass-rushers, to guard might seem simple enough but Robinson says there's more to it than meets the eye. And since Robinson hasn't played inside since high school, he's essentially starting from scratch.

"It's just everything happens faster inside," Robinson said. "Outside you have a little more time to kick. The guys are faster but these guys are just quick and trained to rush the passer. It's just about keeping my feet working and knowing when to pull.

"Right now it's a lot of thinking going on, it causes me to move a little slower. Once I get up to speed, I can move with the snap count and stuff like that."

Robinson also isn't getting much of a break in terms of working his way up slowly. He's been taking repetitions with the first team offense at left guard from the moment he arrived in St. Louis and has been working exclusively in that spot during OTAs. Since those practices aren't padded and don't allow for contact, it's been even more difficult for him to gauge his progress.

But offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is pleased with the rate of Robinson's improvement while acknowledging that it isn't going to happen overnight.

"I think it's going to be an adjustment," Schottenheimer said. "He's doing good. New system, new position ... it's going to take a little time. You can see out there how naturally talented he is, how strong he is, how athletic he is, but there's been some growing pains and there will be."

Practicing without pads has also left little opportunity for Robinson to polish his technique as a pass protector, the area of his game most in need of work as he transitions to the NFL. That will become more of a point of emphasis in training camp when linemen can have more than limited contact.

While Robinson is going to spend most of his time settling on the interior, he says the plan for training camp is to get some work at tackle, the position he projects to for the long term.

"Coach mentioned that I will get some pass rush at tackle but I don't know how in detail he's going to go with me playing there," Robinson said. "I think I'm going to stay at guard for the most part."

The Rams and Robinson will wrap up OTAs this week and all players will be asked to return in shape and ready to compete for training camp. Robinson plans to go home to see his family and spend time training in Florida and Arizona.

But you'll be hard-pressed to find any Ram more eager to return to work in St. Louis.

"It's been good," Robinson said. "I started off slow, started to pick it up a bit. It's coming slowly. I'm sad this has to end, I need a little more work honestly. I'm anxious to get into camp and continue working during this little break we are about to get."