Robertson still driven by long-shot status

Posted Jul 29, 2013

BEREA, Ohio -- A small-school player who made the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent, linebacker Craig Robertson continues to use his long-shot status as motivation.

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns linebacker Craig Robertson is motivated to play football by something other than money or fame. He is driven by constantly reminding himself of the difficult path he traveled to the NFL.

The Stafford, Texas, native and University of North Texas product was a small-school player who went undrafted. He spent his first year out of college awaiting a call from an NFL team before joining the Browns’ practice squad at the end of the year. Last season, Robertson made the roster out of training camp and registered 93 total tackles, second-most on the team.

But that hasn’t changed his approach whatsoever.

“Every year is like I’m an undrafted free agent,” Robertson said. “I’ve got to prove it every year, and I’m OK with that because that keeps me driving forward.

“I’ve been like that since I’ve been in college. We played D-I, but I was a smaller D-I, no recognition. I didn’t care, it just made me work harder. In addition to trying to be the best player on your team, you’ve got to try and beat the best person on the other team. I’ve been doing that for years, nothing new.”

In his first full season, Robertson made 62 solo tackles, assisted on 31 others and intercepted two passes, including one against Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco in the red zone, and recovered a pair of fumbles.

Despite the success, Robertson is not looking back, only forward.

“The confidence went up (because) the whole season, you had your highs and your lows,” Robertson said. “You’re not just high a whole season. If you’re high a whole season, you’re doing something right.

“You have your highs and your lows and you build off of it. Your next year, you’re going in knowing what you’ve got to do, knowing that everybody in the league is good, and knowing you’ve got to prepare every week the same way.”

After spending 2012 as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, Robertson spent this past offseason making the transition to inside linebacker in coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 defensive front. Robertson said it has “been a fun transition.”

“Our defense is fun for a linebacker to be in,” Robertson said. “With our front guys, our noses and our defensive tackles and outside linebackers, they’re holding it down. It makes it really fun for me and ‘Qwell (D’Qwell Jackson) to run around and just be athletic linebackers.

“I love it. (Horton) rubs off a certain confidence about himself, and it rubs off on all of us. He’s like, ‘Guys, I’m going to put you in a good situation.’ When he makes a call, you’ve got 100 percent confidence in whatever he calls. He can call an all-out blitz on first down, and you’ll feel comfortable about it because he knows what he’s doing. Everywhere he’s been, it’s worked.”

In making the transition to inside linebacker, Robertson has learned how to read opposing offensive linemen and different keys from veteran defender D’Qwell Jackson, who spent the first five seasons of his career as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

“That dude’s teaching me everything,” Robertson said. “Before plays, we talk about everything that’s going to go on, what we’ve got to do, what’s happening with everybody else. He knows everything that’s going on, and he makes me want to learn even more.”

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