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What Cincinnati Bengals punter Brad Robbins learned from his frustrating debut


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Charlie Goldsmith, Cincinnati Enquirer
Wed, Sep 13, 2023, 9:10 PM CDT·4 min read
 
 

Cincinnati Bengals rookie punter Brad Robbins asked to be the closer on his Little League Baseball team when he was eight years old. He was a field goal kicker on his football team growing up, and he relished the opportunities to make game-winners. In college at the University of Michigan, Robbins was the starting punter as a freshman, lost the spot for two years and then came all the way back to be a sixth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Robbins sees succeeding under pressure as the story of his athletic career. That’s what made his disappointing NFL debut so surprising to him.

“People say it all the time, especially on Twitter,” Robbins said. “Everyone wants to be the punter on a team until it’s really fourth down. Ever since I was a kid, I thrived and really embodied being in those positions. Did I capitalize on every punt last game? No.”

Cincinnati Bengals punter Brad Robbins learned some important lessons from his up and down NFL debut.
 
Cincinnati Bengals punter Brad Robbins learned some important lessons from his up and down NFL debut.

The Bengals’ 24-3 loss to the Browns started out as a field position battle. On a historically terrible day for quarterback Joe Burrow, most of Robbins’ kicks were with the Bengals deep in their own territory.

Robbins’ first two punts in that position went for an underwhelming 45 and 41 yards. Then early in the second quarter, Robbins briefly lost control of the ball and shanked a 37-yard punt out of bounds.

“In all facets, I feel like I need to be better,” Robbins said. “We’re in the AFC North. I’m not going to say anything about the conditions. This is what I signed up for. This is the division I want to be in. I’ve played in plenty of conditions in college. It’s time to call on that and be productive in that environment.”

Robbins called his next punt embarrassing. The Bengals made it to the Browns’ 38-yard line and faced 4th and 3. Because of the importance of field position in a rain-soaked game and because the offense was struggling, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor decided to punt.

Robbins was supposed to pop up a punt near the right hash by the goal line, but Robbins’ punt landed too far toward the middle of the field. As a result, the gunners weren’t in position to catch it, and the ball rolled into the end-zone for a devastating touchback.

Bengals safety Mike Thomas, the team’s special teams captain in 2022, could tell that Robbins needed to be picked up.

“I knew he wanted to punt the ball better but wasn’t getting the results at first,” Thomas said. “Instead of getting down and adding onto that, I said, ‘On to the next one. Don’t even think about it. Bombs away.’ You’ve got to encourage young guys. Even if you mess up, it’s a long game. There’s always another opportunity.”

Cincinnati Bengals punter Brad Robbins was frustrated by two mis-hit punts and a touchback in his NFL debut.
 
Cincinnati Bengals punter Brad Robbins was frustrated by two mis-hit punts and a touchback in his NFL debut.

Robbins rebounded, and his next punt was a booming 54-yarder late in the second quarter. That punt showed why the Bengals drafted Robbins, and it gave him one positive to take from his NFL debut.

But Robbins’ last meaningful punt of the game was even worse than the touchback. He nearly dropped the ball as he struggled gripping it in the rain, he saw pressure coming right up the middle and only delivered a 22-yard punt.

“You expect to be better in those games,” Robbins said.

Robbins beat out Drue Chrisman in a training camp battle to be the Bengals’ starting punter this year. Robbins’ potential was evident right away during OTAs. He combines power with great hang time and a precise ability to directional kick. He also impressed Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons with his poise and his success in big games at Michigan.

Robbins’ college career was defined by adversity. He was one of the best freshman punters in the country in 2017, but then Robbins only played in seven total games over the next two seasons after getting injured and losing the starting job.

“What are you going to do?” Robbins said. “Are you going to bow out? Are you going to transfer or be done playing football? I stuck in there. I wanted to play at the University of Michigan.”

Robbins compared that experience to the emotions he’s going through after his challenging NFL debut. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor noted how difficult the rain made the season opener for the Bengals’ specialists, but Robbins still felt like he should have punted much better than he did in Cleveland.

“Resilience is a big part of me and a big part of this team,” Robbins said. “That plays a vital role for a guy in a (punter) position that’s not the most prominent. It definitely helps me being around a group of like-minded guys striving for a common goal. You have to stay in an even-keeled mindset, take it as it comes. If you keep showing up, you can’t lose.”

 

https://sports.yahoo.com/cincinnati-bengals-punter-brad-robbins-021010068.html?src=rss

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His punts got better as the game went on, but I'm not a big hang time guy, distance is what matters.

 

Crisman isn't that good either. 

 

This is an understandable no but would you guys consider araiza? He was accused of the most disgusting thing imaginable, but he was also found not guilty 

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34 minutes ago, Jamie_B said:

His punts got better as the game went on, but I'm not a big hang time guy, distance is what matters.

 

Crisman isn't that good either. 

 

This is an understandable no but would you guys consider araiza? He was accused of the most disgusting thing imaginable, but he was also found not guilty 

There's a reason no one's signed him yet I believe

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34 minutes ago, Jamie_B said:

His punts got better as the game went on, but I'm not a big hang time guy, distance is what matters.

 

 

 

A good punter can do both.  Not necessarily at the same time, but there is a place for hang time and a place for getting the ball as far downfield as possible. 

 

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That was probably the toughest spot to put a rookie punter through imaginable. 

 

So your first assignment is the worst rain storm the head coach has ever played in, strong cross winds, on the road, backed up on your side of the field all day, and oh yeah, punt 10 times as we gain no first downs. 

 

Thankfully, it can only get easier from here. 

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1 hour ago, New Jersey Bengal said:

There's a reason no one's signed him yet I believe

Yeah, I find that very curious...I assumed that once Araiza was cleared that someone would snap him up in a New York minute.  What am I missing?

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6 minutes ago, esjbh2 said:

 Araiza.  What am I missing?

 

Either there's still some 'red flags' around his history, or no team wants the headline: "____ signs guy formerly charged with rape".

 

But when you consider Watson is a starting QB wearing a Jim Brown patch, really at this point anything should be fine. I'm surprised Cleveland didn't try to hire OJ Simpson as their RB coach. 

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25 minutes ago, BlackJesus said:

 

Either there's still some 'red flags' around his history, or no team wants the headline: "____ signs guy formerly charged with rape".

 

But when you consider Watson is a starting QB wearing a Jim Brown patch, really at this point anything should be fine. I'm surprised Cleveland didn't try to hire OJ Simpson as their RB coach. 

Lol

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Mt Adams resident (5 mins from PBS); forecast for Sunday now at 51% chance of rain with wind gusts up to 21mph. 
 

That being said, it probably won’t rain at all on Sunday but the wind may be an issue. And if it does rain, it won’t be a monsoon like it was in Cleveland, rather short periods of manageable moisture. 

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