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New Teammates Welcoming Robinson Into Locker Room


Cornerback Al Harris had perhaps the most poignant response Wednesday to the question about whether the Packers players have concerns about newly acquired receiver Koren Robinson's past off-the-field problems, and whether they are or will be a distraction in the locker room.

"What off-the-field issues?" Harris said. "The guy just got here. He just got here like, what, five hours ago? I haven't heard anything."

It was Harris's way of saying Robinson, signed Tuesday after being released by the Vikings in training camp because of an off-the-field incident, has a clean slate with him, and other teammates expressed similar thoughts.

"I had a chance to say hello to Koren and he seems like a great guy," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "We'll welcome him in to the locker room and the team here, and hopefully he can help us.

"I think life is about second chances, whether it's football or anything. He's got another chance, and hopefully he'll make the most of it for him and also for our club."

Robinson practiced for the first time with the Packers on Wednesday but did not speak to reporters afterwards. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he expects Robinson to be ready to play on Sunday against New Orleans.

His most immediate impact could be as a kickoff returner, a role he performed better than anyone in the NFC last year and made the Pro Bowl with Minnesota.

The Packers struggled to get production from its kickoff return unit all through the preseason, and that didn't change in the season opener Sunday. On seven returns, the trio of Samkon Gado, Noah Herron and Robert Ferguson averaged just 18.4 yards with a long of 23 and a costly fumble by Herron that gave Chicago an easy field goal.

No one denies Robinson should give the kick return unit a boost, including McCarthy, who met with him when he came in for a workout last week. That meeting helped convince McCarthy that Robinson won't be a distraction.

"I thought he was sincere," McCarthy said. "He didn't pull any punches. He was direct. He didn't dodge any questions, and I think his heart is in the right place."

McCarthy added that Robinson may be in the right place with the support network players have within this organization when it comes to personal issues.

"We have a network of people to help all of our pro athletes if there is anything in their personal life that they need help with," he said. "That is in place here, and something we will obviously educate Koren on, and that's in the process right now."

When the acquisition was first announced on Monday, General Manager Ted Thompson said Robinson by all accounts is a good guy and a good locker room presence.

Former teammate Marquand Manuel agreed and said Robinson was never a problem in the locker room when they played together in Seattle in 2004.

"Koren is a great guy," Manuel said. "I was doing a radio show about him, and I said when I saw him I gave him a hug. He's a great guy. A lot of bad things happened to him, but we brought him here as a football player. He comes in and works extremely hard in practice and plays extremely hard.

"You have to give a guy another chance. You've got (to give him) a clean slate, and if you keep pointing fingers at him, he's never going to get better. At the same time, you have to embrace him and move on."

Because of his past, it was suggested that Robinson might have to work harder than others to gain his new teammates' trust.

The Packers seem to think that part will simply take care of itself.

"I think anyone earns trust," Kampman said. "I think the focal point needs to be he's a new member of our team. Each of us has some things I'm sure we're not proud of. We'll welcome him in and hope he can help us."

Manuel added that if Robinson needs to lean on his new teammates for support, he plans to be there for him and believes others will be, too.

"We're going to expect a lot out of him, just like I hope he expects a lot out of us," Manuel said. "We'll just try to do what we can together. This is one family. He probably will understand once he gets started that we're a family and we've got each other's back."

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