BALTIMORE — The Pittsburgh Steelers have a young prospect at linebacker that a lot of people have been excited about in second-year man Mark Robinson.
The Steelers have also been decimated by injuries at the linebacker position this season, to the point that they lured Myles Jack out of retirement and he started the team’s last two games.
Despite the rash of injuries, Robinson was not a big part of the answer. The team hasn’t gone out of its way to say why. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said last month that “Mark knows what he has to do.”
Mostly, that was be limited to short spurts of playing time on defense along with a big role on special teams. But for the season finale against the Baltimore Ravens, even with Elandon Roberts returning from injury, Robinson got another chance to make an impact.
This time, he made it count. Robinson played only 13 snaps of defense against the Ravens, the fifth-most action he saw in one game this season. But he had by far his best game. Robinson had five tackles, one for a loss, a sack, a quarterback hit, and forced a fumble in those 13 snaps, finally appearing to make good on the promise he has always shown.
“It was a blessing, man,” Robinson said. “I just want to thank God. Just being to go out there, have fun, being able to execute and do my job and live that life.”
What was it that Robinson had to do to finally achieve some playing success? He said it was nothing mystical.
“For me, it’s just showing up every day, man,” he said. “Putting my best foot forward, being prepared. Just going out, having fun and having love for the game.”
This is the second straight season that Robinson did his best work in Baltimore. In 2022, he played 26 snaps on the road against the Ravens, and got a career-high seven tackles.
Baltimore plays a lot of heavy formations — some of Robinson’s playing time came in a three-ILB, eight-man front — so there’s a stylistic component to it. It could also just be an attitude thing.
“It’s AFC North football, so you know that goes down,” Robinson said.
Is he an AFC North type of player?
“I guess you could say that. I’m here.”
The Steelers have had a trying season at linebacker, and Robinson’s inability to grab hold of a role has been a disappointment, but there is a still a lot to like about the potential of the athletic young linebacker that is still taking to the position after spending most of his college days at running back.
At the very least, keep him ready for Ravens, who could be on the docket again in another week.