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Lions rookie A’Shawn Robinson returns home to play Cowboys

Detroit Lions rookie defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson has 22 tackles and two sacks.
Detroit Lions rookie defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson has 22 tackles and two sacks. AP

A’Shawn Robinson is proud his 2-year-old niece, Ashlyn Robinson, already has learned to say, “Go Lions!”

It didn’t take long for the Robinsons to learn to love Detroit. Fort Worth remains home, but the Motor City became a second home the day the Lions drafted Robinson.

“I’ve adapted well,” Robinson said in a phone interview. “It’s a great place, and I’ve enjoyed being here.”

The former Fort Worth Arlington Heights star has gotten progressively better since the Lions made him a second-round pick. Although still listed as a backup at defensive tackle in the Lions’ 4-3, Robinson has started three of the past four games.

His 329 defensive snaps are second among the team’s defensive tackles, behind only Haloti Ngata.

“I think it’s going great,” Robinson said. “I’ve gotten better each week, progressed. I haven’t had a down moment, I feel like, since the season started. During training camp, I had technique issues, just adjusting from college to the NFL. But for the season so far, I feel like I haven’t had too many downs.”

Robinson has made 22 tackles, four for loss, with two sacks and two quarterback hits. The best thing he’s done is bat down passes at the line of scrimmage.

His seven passes defensed rank third among NFL defensive linemen, and Robinson credits the basketball skills he learned at Arlington Heights.

“I just try to watch the quarterback’s release,” Robinson said. “If I see him releasing the ball, I try to get my hands up and try to close the passing lane. I get close enough to reach out and be able to get my hand in his passing lane and bat it down. Really, it’s about watching his release and trying to time it up.”

Robinson’s batted ball on Thanksgiving Day against Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford negated a pass interference penalty on teammate Tahir Whitehead. But the former Alabama All-American, who is stout against the run, calls his best play this season when he threw Chicago Bears running back Joique Bell for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-1 at the Detroit 36.

“I knew I had to get in the gap,” Robinson said. “I didn’t want them to get the first down. I knew we needed the ball back. I saw the opportunity to shoot my gap and get in there, shoot the crease and make the play.”

Robinson is excited to return home this weekend, to see family for a couple of hours on Christmas Day and then, on Monday night, play once again at AT&T Stadium. It’s a chance to show just how far he’s come.

After 14 games, Robinson is more convinced than ever that he can become a great player.

“If I keep elevating my game, I feel like I can be a great player in the NFL,” Robinson said. “As long as I don’t get complacent, thinking I’m better than what I am. I just have to keep growing as a player. If I do that, I can be a great player.”

Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean

My five cents

1 Players say they don’t care about the Pro Bowl … until they are left off the team. Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, Minnesota Viking cornerback Terence Newman and Chicago Bears guard Josh Sitton are notable players snubbed by players, coaches and fans in all-star voting.

2 Derek Carr and Andrew Luck have met once previously. They were Texas high school quarterbacks in a 2007 Class 5A Region III semifinal game. Carr, a junior at Fort Bend Clements in Sugar Land, completed 11 of 16 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns in a driving rain to beat Stratford 31-27. Luck, a senior at Houston’s Stratford, completed 15 of 24 passes for 166 yards while rushing for 94. Carr moved to Bakersfield, Calif., the following season and played his senior year at Bakersfield Christian.

3 The Green Bay Packers might have found their answer at running back. Receiver Ty Montgomery had 162 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries last week, giving him 243 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries the past three games. Montgomery played receiver, running back and quarterback at Dallas St. Mark’s, rushing for 823 yards as a senior. He had 334 rushing yards in four seasons at Stanford.

4 The annual Sean Payton coaching rumors have started. CBS Sports reported the New Orleans Saints could deal Payton for “hefty trade compensation.” Payton, a former Cowboys assistant who makes his off-season home in DFW, signed a five-year contract extension during the off-season.

5 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who turns 37 next week, said he has no plans to retire. He ranks only 24th in passer rating at 85.8 and has 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Palmer signed a one-year extension worth $24.35 million in August, putting him under contract through 2018, with the next two years fully guaranteed.

Who’s hot

Kansas City Chiefs returner/receiver Tyreek Hill has six touchdowns in the past four games. He was one of only three rookies to earn Pro Bowl honors, joining Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

Who’s not

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had six carries for 22 yards in his return from knee surgery. He has been ruled of Saturday’s game with knee and groin injuries. For the season, the 10-year veteran averages 1.9 yards on his 37 rushes. Last season, Peterson led the league in attempts (327), rushing yards (1,485) and rushing touchdowns (11). He has no touchdowns this season.

Number game

71.6 Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford’s completion percentage, which is better than Drew Brees’ NFL-record 71.2 set in 2011.

2017 NFL Draft

Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com gives his top-10 draft-eligible prospects for the Alabama-Washington game:

1. DL Jonathan Allen, Ala (6-3, 292)

2. DE/OLB Tim Williams, Ala (6-3, 237)

3. LB Reuben Foster, Ala (6-1, 240)

4. WR John Ross, Wash (5-10, 190)

5. CB Marlon Humphrey, Ala (6-0, 192)

6. DT Vita Vea, Wash (6-4, 322)

7. TE O.J. Howard, Ala (6-6, 242)

8. CB Sidney Jones, Wash (6-0, 182)

9. FS Budda Baker, Wash (5-10, 192)

10. OT Cam Robinson, Ala (6-5, 326)

Blitz

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 21 pick-sixes since entering the NFL in 2004. That’s the third most in that span behind Drew Brees (23) and Philip Rivers (22).

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson needs one touchdown to set the team single-season record. Johnson, with 13 rushing touchdowns and four receiving scores, is tied with A&M alum John David Crow, who totaled 17 touchdowns for the Cardinals in 1962.

The New England Patriots have won eight consecutive AFC East titles, setting an NFL record. The L.A. Rams won seven consecutive NFC West titles from 1973-79.

Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree needs 134 yards for his second career 1,000-yard season. The Texas Tech alum had 1,105 yards in 2012.

Carolina’s Greg Olsen needs 8 yards to become the first tight end in NFL history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

The Patriots have won eight games in a row against teams quarterbacked by a first- or second-year quarterback, according to ESPN. They are 38-11 against such clubs since the start of the 2001 season.

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker passed Dan Bailey as the most accurate in NFL history. The Texas product has made 89.6 percent of his career field-goal tries. He is 33 of 34 this season, with his only miss a block on a 34-yard attempt when New England’s Shea McClellin leaped over the long snapper.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo, a Texas alum, has 10.5 sacks, one short of setting a career high.

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the league with 145 tackles, eight behind the franchise record of 153 set by Terry Beeson in 1978.

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing with 1,129 yards, but his 5.5 average per carry leads all backs with at least 100 carries.

Last week, Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore made his first start since 2011. Miami won, giving Moore a 14-12 record as a starter.

The Chicago Bears have recovered three fumbles this season. The all-time franchise low is the five the 2003 team had.

Information from The Sports Xchange was used in this report.

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