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Greg Robinson impresses in starting debut, makes push to hold onto left tackle job

Greg Robinson's NFL story hasn't been the happiest.

Robinson was at an all-time high on Draft Day in 2014, when the then-St. Louis Rams selected him No. 2 overall. Since then, he's changed positions, been traded and waived. After signing with the Browns as a free agent, he scrapped his way to make Cleveland's 53-man roster 

On Sunday, though, Robinson's story perked up for a few hours. He made his first start for the Browns, and by his quarterback's estimations, he played well. 

Baker Mayfield praised Robinson's performance unprompted during his postgame press conference, naming Robinson's performance as a positive takeaway from the loss. And considering left tackles are a right-handed quarterback's best friend, Mayfield's vote of confidence matters significantly. It certainly meant something to Robinson. 

"I'm really happy that (Mayfield) spoke well of me," Robinson said. "It felt good to just get out there with the boys."

Robinson only played Sunday because starter Desmond Harrison was too sick to play. Harrison is still first on the depth chart. But Robinson could argue the depth chart only looks that way because he was hurt during training camp.

Robinson should've owned the advantage over Harrison. Robinson was entering his fifth NFL season; Harrison was an undrafted rookie out of Division II West Georgia who left Texas' football program after being suspended for a season.

But the learning curve for Todd Haley's system was steeper than Robinson thought. He wasn't signed until mini-camp ended and sustained a concussion early in training camp. He felt like he was playing catch-up, and he never caught up. Harrison was named the starting left tackle right before the season began, making Robinson a backup for the first time in his career. His status as a top draft pick was a distant memory.

"I have no excuses whatsoever," Robinson said of his disappointing career. "Nothing's really holding me back except myself." 

After Sunday's performance, though, he might have a chance to change his narrative. He impressed his quarterback, and coach Gregg Williams, who was on the Rams staff when they drafted Robinson, agreed Monday that Robinson played well. Could that connection come in handy?

"I would hope so," Robinson said.

Relationships can't hurt, but Robinson will have to earn his coach's trust throughout the week. Williams said Monday that every day is a competition and will discuss who should be the starting left tackle with his staff this week. Robinson will have a hard time ever living up to his draft position, but if he wins a starting spot in Cleveland and plays well, he can at least put a happier spin on a story that could be headed toward one. 

"If that's the decision that the coaches would make going forward," Robinson said, "Then I'm really proud of it."