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O'HARA: Robinson feels like he's off to a good start

Greg Robinson wasn't looking for laughs or using a throwaway line from a hotel commercial when he talked about getting a good night's sleep before playing his first preseason game for the Detroit Lions.

Robinson was slated to play the entire first half at offensive left tackle in Sunday's road game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Robinson was the only one of the five starters on the offensive line to play the entire first half at one position. Getting his rest paid off.

"He was solid," head coach Jim Caldwell said. "In terms of his first outing within the system ... against another team … I thought he did some good things. But he's still got a ways to go."

As the leading candidate to start while Taylor Decker recovers from an injured right shoulder, a solid start for Robinson was heartening – with more work to do, which is to be expected.

The stakes are high for Robinson and the Lions. He has a chance to restart his career after being traded to the Lions in the offseason after three seasons with the Rams. And filling a hole at the critical position on the offensive line for however long Decker is out is crucial to the offense.

It's serious business on all fronts, and Robinson is giving himself every opportunity to make the most of the situation.

"They gave us the play time the day before the game," Robinson said at practice this week. "That night I kind of went to sleep early, knowing it wasn't going to be a series I was going to be in there.

"I went over my plays, focusing on the things I was struggling with during the week. I just made sure I pounded that into my head. I could be prepared for it, just in case the coach called it.

"It felt good."

In a situation where the Lions hope that left tackle can be settled early, Robinson's career of late has been anything but settled.

The Rams drafted him second overall out of Auburn in 2014 while the franchise was still in St. Louis – with reports swirling daily that a move to Los Angeles was impending.

As a rookie Robinson played all 16 games at left guard and tackle, with 12 starts. He was a full-time left tackle his last two years, with 16 starts in St. Louis in 2015 and 14 in L.A. in 2016 after the move.

Change was a constant in those three seasons. The Rams have had five starting quarterbacks and three offensive coordinators, with one change during the 2015 season. Head coach Jeff Fisher was fired during last season. 

Robinson fell out of the Rams' plans for this season and was available for trade when the Lions were looking to fill the void created by Decker's injury during offseason workouts. Among other moves, the Lions signed veteran free-agent tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, a 2014 second-round pick by Buffalo who played in 25 games in three seasons with seven starts.

Robinson feels like he got off to a good start. The Lions scored 17 points and gained 244 yards in the first half against the Colts. They didn't have a penalty in the first 30 minutes and allowed only one sack.

Pro Football Focus tweeted out a favorable grade for Robinson, but he was more interested in how the Lions' staff graded him.

"The coach grades me kind of tough," he said, smiling. "I knew I had a lot to clean up. I played hard. I felt that when the opportunity presented itself, I took advantage of it. You don't get many plays in the preseason games. The opportunity to prove yourself is so critical."

He was late off the ball on a pass play late in the half but adjusted to push the pass-rusher further to the outside, letting Jake Rudock move up in the pocket to complete a pass for a good gain.

"In critical moments like that, you have to react," Robinson said. "If you are late, you have to have answers."

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