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Promising Steelers LB Looks to Take Defense by Storm



Steelers LB Mark Robinson
Steelers linebacker Mark Robinson against the Jaguars, Oct. 29, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Sunday is the time for Mark Robinson to get ample opportunity. With Cole Holcomb out for the season,  Holcomb’s loss presents new challenges for Kwon Alexander and Elandon Roberts at linebacker, but they will not be the only ones who will have to step up in his absence. Robinson needs to play, too, for the Steelers to find success at that spot.

Roles are primarily dictated by game flow, and Robinson admittedly does not know how much he will play against the Packers. But he is the third guy in the rotation and got to work alongside Alexander and Roberts this week. Robinson relishes that he will have the chance to make some noise.

“Well, you know, I don’t know anything about roles or playing time because that’s so tied to game flow,” Robinson said. “But whatever I have, I’m going to be prepared for that, but that’s like any week. Really, I came into this week preparing like it was just another week.”

Steelers ILB Mark Robinson

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Mark Robinson (93) looks on during pre-game warm-ups before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

The team elevated Tariq Carpenter on Saturday to bring their inside linebacker room to four players. But Robinson should see the bulk of the reps behind the two starters. An athletic former running back, Robinson loves playing the other side. When Ole Miss took a leap of faith and moved him to the other side of the ball, he was down for the opportunity immediately because he is a football lifer. That is part of the reason Robinson continues to improve, and the Steelers see a lot of upside in his game.

“When I was presented the opportunity, I was down for it right away,” Robinson said. “I got on the other side and made my first hit and I loved it. Since then, it’s just been about working hard and following my faith to this point.”

Robinson Looks to Make Plays

Robinson has never lacked the confidence to make the plays on the field. Pittsburgh has at times, though Robinson has quickly become one of their core special teamers. But defensive coordinator Teryl Austin gave Robinson a vote of confidence, a different tune than the Steelers have sung for much of the last two seasons. It seems they are finally ready to give Robinson some legitimate run, but they had three starters before him, so he did not get much time.

“I feel confident in Mark in giving us some reps that we want,” Austin said. “Mark is a great kid, great guy, tough, so I feel confident Mark will have an opportunity to get in the game and have an impact on the game.”

Robinson has played in just one game on defense this year. He got four snaps against the Ravens. But playing against the Ravens is not new for Robinson. He also got plenty of playing time against them during Pittsburgh’s trip to Baltimore in January. He hopes those two games showed that he belongs in the NFL.

“I feel like those games just showed that I belong,” Robinson said. “You put in all of that work and trust in your faith, and I just hope it showed I can go out on Sunday and make plays. Now, the game is much slower for me. I think I can make plays.”

Robinson was always a run-stopper who could lay the boom. He’s a quiet but intense player on the football field. It’s different than the intensity that Roberts plays with, but Robinson brings the same type of hard-hitting qualities as Roberts, but now it makes him even more athletic. Is Robinson ready from a processing standpoint? Pittsburgh has to find out if he is prepared to make that leap.

Holcomb’s loss presents heavy challenges for Robinson. But none more than Pittsburgh will finally expose him to plays outside of his comfort zone if they choose to play him. It’s time for Pittsburgh to see just what they have in Robinson and how well he will answer to the call to play at a high level.