Whatever else happened for the New York Giants last week on Thursday Night Football, there was one definite bright spot in the return of wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson to the field.
Robinson suffered a torn ACL on November 20th of 2022, setting him on a long and arduous path back to the football field. While Robinson has been injured before — he suffered a series of soft tissue injuries early in his freshman year at Nebraska in 2019 — this was the first time he’s ever missed significant time.
“Never having to really miss time like that before, definitely cherishing all of the moments being back out there and just wanting to give everything I’ve got with all of the snaps that I’m getting right now,” Robinson said.
It was widely expected that Robinson would start the 2023 season on the PUP list following his late-season injury. However, he started the season on the active roster. The Giants took their time getting him back into game shape, and he was inactive for the first two games. The Giants’ training staff clearly had a plan for Robinson’s recovery, and it’s paying off.
“It’s definitely a little difficult but I’m just following the plan,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a plan in place with the training staff and the coaching staff just with me coming nine months off an ACL. I’m just going to follow the plan and just continue to get better each and ever day just let my knee get stronger.“
While Robinson got back on the field against the San Francisco 49ers, he wasn’t out there much and played just 11 offensive snaps (22%). That said, he definitely had an impact when he was on the field. Robinson was responsible for converting the Giants’ first third down opportunity with a well-run slant route from the slot, where he helped create space by bending his route stem away from the catch point before breaking back inside.
Robinson was able to hit the ground running (so to speak) because he kept working on his craft while he was also working on his recovery.
Robinson said, “Luckily, I was in all of the meetings and stuff even when I was hurt so it’s really been all kind of the same ever since I was rookie. Just trying to keep the same schedule and stay on the same path. I’m just trying to continue to get better each and every day and talking with the older guys just (seeing) if there’s anything I can do better. Just watching tape and stuff like that.”
He added that he wouldn’t have been out there if he didn’t feel as though he was ready or his presence wouldn’t have helped the team. That’s a refreshing attitude in a sport where coaches sometimes need to hold players back when their competitiveness drives them to be out on the field, but they really shouldn’t be.
“I felt fine. But no, I had no doubts,” Robinson said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to go out there, told the coaching staff and (General Manager) Joe (Schoen) and them that I was ready to go if I didn’t feel confident. It felt good to get back out there and feeling even better after I got out there. Just continue to get the confidence.”
On the Giants’ offense
Wan’Dale might not have been on the field much when in his first game back, but he saw work when his number was called. He was targeted on five of his 11 snaps, catching four passes for 21 yards, and three of his five targets came on third down.
Unfortunately, Thursday night wasn’t a great one for the Giants’ offense as a whole. They’ve largely struggled to start the 2023 season, and Robinson was asked for his perspective on those troubles.
“We can definitely make the most of our opportunities,” he said. “I feel like as an offense as a whole, we all have to work together. It’s not just one unit it just falls on, all of us have to work together. It works with the offensive line, quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers. Everything plays a part so we’re just going to continue to do our part and just continue to try to get better and do everything we can for (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and our offense.”
It’s easy to focus on one element of the offense as the sole reason for its struggles. However, as the saying goes, football is the ultimate team game. Much of the blame for the Giants’ offensive woes outside of the second half against the Arizona Cardinals has fallen on their offensive line. And while the line certainly needs to improve, Robinson believes that if the Giants’ offense is gong to improve, they’ll have to do it as a team.
Robinson said, “Like I said, I think it goes back with everybody. Running backs, quarterbacks, offensive line, even some of the play calls. I mean, not everything’s going to be perfect at all times and we just have to make things work sometimes. Obviously, we still believe in our o-line and obviously we’re missing some pieces and getting people healthy will obviously help, but we just have to continue to keep working and keep pushing forward and just go out to practice each and every day and everything will come.
“I think just three games in I think there’s obviously still room for improvement. I don’t think we’re a finished product or anything like that, we just have to continue to keep working and just keep taking the steps forward and everything will come our way.”