WRs Robinson, Martin Always Ready To Make A Play

As the fourth and fifth wideouts, Koren Robinson and Ruvell Martin are coming in and out of the game all the time. They might go an entire quarter or more without taking the field, and then all of a sudden they’re sent out there for a crucial third down and the ball might be coming their way. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Cowboys Game Center


A passing game that's in rhythm can be awfully difficult to stop. The quarterback and receivers have their timing down, and they're on the same page with which routes to run and how to attack the defense.

The Packers have found that type of rhythm plenty this season as the league's No. 2 passing offense, and at no time was it more evident than when Brett Favre completed 20 straight passes on Thanksgiving in Detroit.

What can make that rhythm so hard to maintain, though, is that the offense must change formations and personnel in order to keep a defense guessing. The Packers will go from a three-receiver set, to a four-receiver set, to their five-receiver package they call "Big Five," and rotate through those options at any given time.

That places a certain burden on receivers like Koren Robinson and Ruvell Martin, the fourth and fifth receivers behind the top three of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones. As the fourth and fifth wideouts, Robinson and Martin are coming in and out of the game all the time. They might go an entire quarter or more without taking the field, and then all of a sudden they're sent out there for a crucial third down and the ball might be coming their way.

No one wants to be that guy who breaks up the team's rhythm, and that's the challenge Robinson and Martin face regularly in this offense. They don't necessarily get the chance to establish their own feel for the game, getting maybe 12 or 18 or 20 snaps out of the 60-plus run in a game, but they're expected to produce at a moment's notice and keep the offense running smoothly.

"You try to work hard to be a starter, to be the best you can be, so whenever your number is called, you have to be ready," Robinson said. "The work you're doing to better yourself each and every day, to have you prepared for those 18 plays, those 20 plays, or whenever your number is called. So you should be ready."

That's easier said than done, though, particularly as the season wears on and the weather gets colder. Robinson said he'll keep his body loose by doing some exercising on the sidelines, but he and Martin need to be on high-alert anytime the offense has the ball, not only because the coaches might send them in at any time, but because they need to stay mentally in the game at all times.

"I'm always keeping my eyes on the guys because if we go two- or three-wide, one of the guys might get hurt or need a blow or something like that," Martin said. "You make sure you're paying attention, keeping an eye on the defenders, kind of seeing what they're doing, so when you get in, you already know what's going on."

Robinson and Martin have been steadily productive in their roles. Since making his 2007 debut in Kansas City on Nov. 4, Robinson has 10 receptions for 113 yards. Meanwhile Martin, who has played in all but one game this season, has 12 catches for 173 yards with three touchdowns.

Last week at Detroit, during Favre's flawless 20-for-20 stretch, provided the perfect example of the impact both can make in their part-time roles.

Robinson saw just one pass thrown his way the entire first half, and it was incomplete. But on the opening drive of the third quarter, with the offense going four- and five-wide with Favre in the shotgun, Robinson caught one pass for 7 yards to pick up a first down and then four plays later beat his man down the right sideline for a 43-yard gain to the Detroit 4-yard line, setting up a TD to Jennings on the next play.

Then on the next series, it was Martin who came through. Having not seen a single pass thrown his way for nearly three full quarters, Martin was in single coverage on the goal line and Favre found him for a 3-yard TD, taking advantage of the big target the 6-foot-4 Martin provides in the red zone.

"He's kind of developed a little bit of a niche for himself and taken advantage of his chances when he's been in there," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said of Martin, who has scored one touchdown for every four receptions on the season. "He's really come through for us."

Favre and Driver have the most history together by far, going on nine full seasons now. As Favre has developed more chemistry with the second-year Jennings and rookie Jones, it has grown with Robinson and Martin as well, even though they're on the field less than the others during the games.

{sportsad300}Robinson noted that Favre makes a point of spreading the ball around during practice, to get a feel for where each receiver is on a given play. The trust also grows when the fourth and fifth receivers become viable options and not just pawns to open routes up for the top three wideouts.

"I think it's just making plays when you get opportunities," Martin said. "That's where trust comes from with any of those guys. I don't think you trust somebody just because they're out there 50 plays a game. You trust them when they go out there and make plays."

That's what makes "Big Five" so exciting. Favre can, and has, thrown to any one of the five receivers out of that formation, and he'll continue to do so until defenses find a way to stop it. Just hearing the formation called on the sidelines gets the entire receiving corps fired up.

Martin said the group is so close that they just enjoy getting to take the field at the same time, and they've joked about coming up with some kind of chant for the crowd to do when the "Big Five" are lining up.

Meanwhile Robinson said he cracks a smile "from ear to ear" when he hears the call, because he sees everyone in the huddle thinking the same thing.

"This could be it -- I might get a touchdown, I might get a catch," Robinson said. "Somebody's going to get the ball, and it's going to be a big play too. That's what we're looking for. It's a little more special."

Especially for guys like Robinson and Martin who wait, at the ready, for any chance they get.

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