Patrick Robinson's Path to Sticking With Eagles May Be Nickel Corner

Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson can still prove useful to the club, even after the acquisition of Ronald Darby in a trade with the Bills last week.

Darby is projected to start at cornerback along with Jalen Mills, pushing Robinson down the depth chart and perhaps even out of a job. While Robinson continued to work with the starters Sunday in practice, he also took some first-team reps in the slot in place of Ron Brooks, who is nursing a hamstring injury.

Brooks appeared to have the job locked down, but nickel cornerback is an area where Robinson has a chance to stick. The eighth-year veteran has struggled on the outside at training camp but thrived on the inside in past years.

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"I'm definitely comfortable in the slot," Robinson said. "I do think I have a knack for seeing things like that."

Comfortable might be an understatement, as charting numbers suggest Robinson may be best suited to play nickel.

Robinson did not have his best season as a member of the Colts in 2016, and that extended to his performance in the slot. He was targeted nine times, allowing seven completions for 92 yards and one touchdown in 86 coverage snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Robinson also battled injuries while playing in the NFL's 30th-ranked pass defense.

Yet, Robinson has also experienced a high degree of success in the same role. As a member of the San Diego Chargers in 2015, he allowed 20 receptions for just 157 yards with an interception on 29 targets in 201 coverage snaps for a 67.7 opponents' passer rating - fourth among qualifying corners. And in 2014 with the New Orleans Saints, he allowed 14 catches for 139 yards with an interception on 24 attempts in 162 coverage snaps for a 57.5 rating - ranked fifth out of 61 players.

"I think I'm able to see things more, instead of outside," Robinson said. "A lot of times you play man, and we just have our eyes on our man. But in the slot, I'm able to see things, figure things out as far as the formation, snap counts, blitzing, anything like that.

"I think that's one of my strengths - my instincts and my vision."

Signed as a free agent in March, Robinson was initially projected to start at corner. However, he is with his fourth team in four seasons, coming off an injury-riddled campaign, turns 30 in September and has not looked sharp in camp.

It was beginning to look like the Eagles might not have much use for Robinson in 2017, and that was before the move for Darby. The prospect of winning a job at nickel cornerback could breathe new life into his tenure.

"We're looking at everything," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said.

"Patrick played a little bit in New Orleans in there. He played San Diego in there. He played a little bit of Indianapolis in there. So he's familiar with everything. We'll have a lot of different combinations over the next three weeks to try to figure out what our best combinations are and what our best matchups are."

Robinson admitted he isn't sure what the Eagles' plan is, but he isn't focused on the additional competition, either. The former first-round draft pick continued working on the field with a group of teammates after practice Sunday, as he has almost every day.

"That's part of the business," Robinson said. "I'm still trying to be the best player that I can be, and more importantly, help this team win."

Brooks hasn't done anything to warrant losing his spot. Now that he's suddenly in the mix, Robinson may simply prove to be the better option.

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