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Dunta Robinson ready to make his Atlanta debut


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Dunta Robinson ready to make his Atlanta debut

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By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson's much-anticipated debut is now just a few days away.

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"I'm ready to take it from the practice field into the game," Robinson said.

Robinson, the franchise's major offseason acquisition, did not play during the preseason after suffering a hamstring injury early in training camp.

All eyes will be focused on the Athens native when he takes the field at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He was signed to a six-year, $57.5 million contract and is expected to add some blanket coverage to a secondary that finished 28th in the league (242.1 yards per game) against the pass last season.

While he didn't play in the exhibition games, Robinson has been practicing for the past two weeks. After last season's rash of injuries, the Falcons were extremely cautious with Robinson.

He was close to playing in the third exhibition game against Miami. He wanted to match up against Brandon Marshall, one of the league's top receivers.

But during the pre-game medical evaluation it was determined that there was still some soreness in his hamstring. With Miami's dirt infield and the soreness, it was determined that Robinson shouldn't play.

Robinson doesn't feel that he missed much by not going up against Marshall.

"I go up against Roddy [White] every day," Robinson said. "So I face a great receiver every day in practice."

He wanted to play in the exhibition finale against Jacksonville, but the coaching staff elected to sit 22 of the 24 projected starters.

"Obviously, that was the best thing for me, because now it feels much better," Robinson said. "Not rushing it was a good thing. Coming out here and getting focused and still getting the mental reps was a good thing."

The Falcons are counting on Robinson to add some leadership and toughness to what was the team's weakest unit last season.

"He is a guy who's very focused," general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "He's about physicality. He tries to make plays on the ball. He's a guy that we expect to be a difference maker for us in the secondary."

In free agency, Robinson ordered his agent to negotiate solely with the Falcons. He wanted to be on a team he thought was on the rise in the NFL.

"You don't want to go to a team that's already accomplished," Robinson said. "You want to build something. That way you feel like you helped instead of jumping on the bandwagon like some guys do. I definitely feel that I can help this team get to where they are trying to go."

Robinson has garnered the respect of his fellow cornerbacks in a short period of time. They look to the six-year veteran for guidance and skill development tips.

"They also look to him for positive leadership," Dimitroff said. "It's understated. There is a [calmness] and a seriousness to his leadership, and they really respect that in Dunta."

They also know that he will be ready when they take the field on Sunday.

"He's looking real good," safety Thomas DeCoud said. "He's breaking on the ball. He's making plays on the ball. ... He's getting everything all greased up."

Robinson didn't practice last preseason, but the circumstances were much different. He was unhappy with his contract situation in Houston.

He signed a one-year tender the week before the start of the season and played in the opener.

"I'm not worried at all," Robinson said. "I just want to get out here with this defense."

Robinson was on hand for the offseason program and worked with the defense. But he played on the left side.

Against Pittsburgh, he'll play on the right side and either Brent Grimes or Christopher Owens will line up on the left side.

It will be the first time playing together in that alignment, but Robinson doesn't think cohesiveness will be an issue.

"I think the guys understand me and know what I can do," Robinson said. "They understand what kind of player I am. They understand what I can do on the football field."

You can tell that Robinson is getting a little antsy. He clearly wants some action.

While he knows he's expected to provide tight pass coverage, he's looking forward to the hitting aspects of the job.

"Blitzing and hitting quarterbacks is what I prefer," Robinson said. "A lot of guys, quarterbacks and receivers, after I hit them, they look around and think it was somebody else. They don't think it was the little dude. ... They expect me to make interceptions, but they don't expect me to come up and knock their heads off."

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>>"Blitzing and hitting quarterbacks is what I prefer," Robinson said. "A lot of guys, quarterbacks and receivers, after I hit them, they look around and think it was somebody else. They don't think it was the little dude. ... They expect me to make interceptions, but they don't expect me to come up and knock their heads off." <<

That's cool, but maybe covering WRs should be what a CB prefers? I dont know.

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