Rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. made his NFL debut with the Washington Commanders last week against the Tennessee Titans just months after being shot twice in an attempted robbery.
On Thursday night against the Chicago Bears, Robinson will be starting in the Commanders’ backfield, the NFL Network reported.
This is almost seven weeks to the day Robinson was thinking whether he’d ever be able to suit up after being sent to a hospital with gunshot wounds in late August.
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Robinson’s expected role Thursday night is where he was trending to be during the preseason. He emerged as the No. 1 running back with Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic also in the mix.
Robinson played 18 snaps last week, picking up 22 yards on nine carries and a couple of first downs. Clearly, the Commanders saw what they needed from Robinson and will let him loose now.
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The Alabama product, who was a third-round pick by Washington in April, received a standing ovation from the FedEx Field crowd when he ran out of the tunnel before last week’s game. Robinson discussed his shooting and rehab prior to the game, saying he was grateful just to be back on the practice field, let alone playing in his first NFL game.
“It was beautiful. Just getting back on the field, having fun, being around my coaches and team again. Just a beautiful day,” Robinson told reporters.
Robinson pointed to the sky after running through a drill, explaining, “God was the first thing. I had to put him first.”
Head coach Ron Rivera mentioned last week that the Commanders were trying to ease Robinson back into the lineup and admitted he had to hold Robinson back.
“He is progressing very well,” Rivera said. “Each week he gets to see the doctors and the trainers. They felt now is a good time to see how he does outside.”
It’s a full-circle moment for Robinson, who called the shooting “probably the lowest point I’ve ever been in my life.” But doctors gave him the go-ahead to play.
From there, his mindset immediately shifted to how he can get back to his team.
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“Once the doctors told me I would be able to play ball again, then my mind automatically clicked into what I needed to do to get myself back on the football field,” he explained. “Just listening to the doctors and the trainers and everybody that’s been in my circle helping me. They’ve done everything they possibly could to be able to get to this point.
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“My passion for this game runs so deep. I never thought I would be in a situation where I would have to question whether I would be able to return back to playing football.”