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Notebook: Robinson gives Falcons alternatives at WR

POSTED: November 21, 2007 5:04 a.m.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Laurent Robinson wishes it weren’t the case, but he knows every rookie makes mistakes.

Last week at Carolina, Robinson caught an 11-yard pass in the second quarter but couldn’t control the ball after a hard hit from Panthers safety Chris Harris.

The Atlanta Falcons’ third-round draft pick could only watch as cornerback Ken Lucas picked it up and ran 27 yards for Carolina’s first touchdown.

"Sometimes I have a tendency to not to turn the right way or something," Robinson said Friday, "so we’re constantly tweaking that in practice and trying to make it work in the game."

Veteran teammates encouraged Robinson, a former standout at Illinois State, to forget about the play immediately.

Robinson finished Atlanta’s 27-20 victory with a career-best five catches for 32 yards.

"There’s plenty of opportunities for me to go out there and make plays," Robinson said. "I’m just going week in and week out to try and do my best."

Falcons coach Bobby Petrino wasn’t terribly upset about the fumble. Robinson’s failure to pick up extra yardage, though, after a third-down reception in the fourth quarter was bothersome.

"We need to work on running the football after the catch," Petrino said. "I think there were a couple of times where we had to get the ball out of our hands quickly on third down, and (the receiver) has to get that first down. That’s an area of emphasis for us."

Robinson was no lock to take a lot of snaps when he was drafted with a veteran receiving corps that included Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, Joe Horn, Brian Finneran and Adam Jennings.

Not that Robinson was a long shot to make the 53-man roster entering Week 1. If not for a season-ending injury to Finneran in June, the Falcons likely would have released the 5-foot-9, 176-pound Jennings rather than part company with a rangy wideout like Robinson, whose 6-2, 201-pound frame gives quarterbacks an easily visible target.

After he debuted impressively in mini-camp, Robinson gained the attention of Petrino and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, both of whom like the rookie’s route-running and blocking skills.

Atlanta has relied even more on Robinson during the last two weeks, and Horn probably will be sidelined Sunday when the Falcons (3-6) host Tampa Bay (5-4).

Robinson knows he needs to improve his capacity at creating space with defensive backs and linebackers. Facing the speed and strength of NFL players is hardly comparable to those he played against at Illinois State.

"(The space) just collapses so quick," Robinson said. "I’ve just got to make my instincts move a little faster, start moving with the ball and not hesitating."

Ready to go
Running back and kickoff returner Jerious Norwood missed the Carolina game with an ankle sprain, but Petrino upgraded him to probable in the injury report sent to the NFL on Friday.

Petrino listed Horn as doubtful. Quarterback Byron Leftwich (ankle), offensive tackle Todd Weiner (knee) and defensive tackle Trey Lewis (shoulder) are probable.

Hold your ground
After allowing the Panthers to go just 3-for-16 on third-down attempts, the Falcons’ defense improved to second in the NFC and third overall with 33.3 percentage.

Tampa Bay’s offense has converted 44 percent to tie Green Bay and the New York Giants for third in the NFC and 12th overall.



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