Keenan Robinson had the game taken away from him in back-to-back seasons. That's why he's been giving it his all on the field ever since.
Keenan Robinson had the game taken away from him late in his rookie season.
His second season? It ended on the first day of training camp.
That's why whenever he's on the field, Robinson is intense and active, not letting the joy of playing football escape him.
As the defensive playcaller for the Redskins, Robinson hopes that attitude rubs off on the entire unit.
"After the injuries, my mindset of the game kind of changed," he said. "I was like, at any given moment it could be over, so I just play relentless and every play I give it my all. That's the kind of mindset and mentality that we have to have. From a defense stand point, if we have 11 guys doing that… At any given moment we could have one breakdown, but if someone else is going hard – 110 percent – that could make up for someone else's mistake. Coach said if you're going to make a mistake, make it at full speed because someone else is going to be covering your back and someone is going to be making up for your mental mistake."
Robinson, a Texas product, certainly didn't disappoint last season, his first as a full-time starter, recording 134 tackles – second most on the team.
Those experiences were important, especially considering the fact he was filling the shoes of London Fletcher, one of the most consistent players of the last decade.
"He's a very bright guy and last year's experiences as far as playing full-time really helped him seeing the game, seeing formations, recognizing formations, making the calls, making the checks," head coach Jay Gruden said. "Now he's using different words [in Joe Barry's offense]. Some of it has carried over, but a lot of it has changed. He's doing a good job."
Robinson has only been working with Barry for a few months now, and they have yet to see the coach in a game setting, but the linebacker says the new defensive coordinator "brings a new sort of energy to the team."
"Joe's a little bit younger and he's able to, I guess, relate to us more just because he is younger," Robinson said. "He really is able to relate to us more because he's kind of more hip to everything that's going on now. You see Joe wearing pair of J's [Jordan's] or something like that. That tells you what kind of coach he is. He's just more, I guess, personable as a player's coach and just more down to earth, more laid back when he's away from the game."
Check out images of fourth-year linebacker Keenan Robinson during the 2015 offseason.
While the linebacking corps, mainly inside, stayed the same from 2014 to 2015, the Redskins made a concerted effort to revamp both their defensive line and their secondary this offseason.
Robinson said the newcomers are "a whole bunch of guys who are hungry to win."
"We have a lot of new faces and the faces we've brought in have come from winning organizations for the most part," Robinson said. "T-Knight [Terrance Knighton], he came from the Broncos. They're obviously a winning organization. Chris Culliver came from the 49ers, a winning organization. So we have guys who we've brought in who know how to win and know how to get it done the right way. They've been on great teams and great defenses who have been, you know, top five defenses in the past. So they know what it takes in order to get to the top."
That winning mentality is spreading, and quickly at that.
"I think everybody has that same mindset that, 'OK, this is what we need to do to get to where we want to be and if we're not doing it then we're wrong and we're going in the wrong direction,'" Robinson said. "So every day, like I said, I bring my lunch pail to work every day. Those guys are bringing their A-game to practice every single day to get better. And because we all have the same goal, we all have the same mindset when it comes to practicing, we all have that goal of achieving being a top five defense, being a playoff-caliber team, being a Super Bowl-caliber team."