The Washington Commanders will activate rookie running back Brian Robinson off the non-football injury list, another step in his comeback after being shot twice in late August. Doctors cleared him to return, and he will practice Wednesday for the first time since the shooting, coach Ron Rivera said.
Once he's activated and starts practicing, Washington will have 21 days to place him on the active roster or it would need to then put him on injured reserve. Rivera said he's optimistic Robinson will play in Sunday's game vs. Tennessee, though he wants to see how Robinson handles several days of practice. The Commanders (1-3) play twice in 11 days as they travel to Chicago on Oct. 13.
"Hopefully it's a nice shot in the arm and hopefully we get what we're expecting to and that it's another quality running back we're looking for," Rivera said. "We have to be smart how we handle him and we have to handle those expectations and handle what he's going through physically and mentally. It's a different set of circumstances. I don't know of any other player I've coached that's had to go through this."
Rivera also said defensive end Chase Young, coming off a torn right ACL, is "trending in the right direction," but that they want to see where he's at next week. Rivera said doctors are optimistic but believe Young needs more time.
Robinson has made consistent progress since he was shot while going to a restaurant in the District of Columbia on Aug. 29. Initial police reports said he was the victim of a robbery or a carjacking. Robinson was treated at the scene but needed surgery on his right knee, which sustained no structural damage.
Robinson has been present at Washington's practices for the past three weeks, working on a side field with trainers. He could be seen doing vigorous agility work, dragging a weighted sled and running pass routes.
Whenever he returns, Washington hopes Robinson can provide a boost to a struggling offense. Robinson, a third-round pick, would have opened the season as Washington's primary running back on early downs because of his consistency and power running between the tackles.
"Anytime you can gain a playmaker, I don't care how many, four, five, it doesn't matter. You want as many play makers as possible," Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan said. "Having him back, the energy that he brings, is going to be really good for us."
Jordan said he was pleased with Robinson's innate feel for running the ball.
"There's some certain things you can't teach from the running back position in terms of feeling [jersey colors] and feeling where he needs to cut," Jordan said.
Antonio Gibson, their primary back, has rushed for 173 yards, averaging 3.26 yards per carry. He has not rushed for more than 58 yards in a game this season, a function of playcalling and also falling behind by double digits in each of the past three games.
But the Commanders want to use him in a variety of ways because of his receiving ability; pairing him with Robinson at times would help that goal. Gibson also would return kickoffs when Robinson returns.
Washington's run game wasn't the issue in Sunday's 25-10 loss to Dallas, as the Commanders rushed for a season-high 142 yards.