DENVER – Broncos wide receiver Gerell Robinson spent last season -- his rookie campaign -- on the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad. In Thursday night's preseason finale against the Cardinals, he played like he was trying to prove to both teams that he belongs on a 53-man roster.
But with the final cuts looming, the young wide receiver blocked out the pressure and focused on his performance.
"I didn't think about it," Robinson said. "It was a game. It was our last preseason game, and it was the final stamp to put the end on a good camp that I thought I had. So I went out there, played for my teammates and played for the city of Denver, and I had fun."
Both Brock Osweiler, a college teammate of Robinson's, and Zac Dysert seemed to have fun throwing to him, too. He was the most targeted receiver and led the team with five catches and 99 yards to go along with a third-quarter touchdown.
"Gerell is always coming up, (saying) 'Hey, if you need someone to throw to, I'll be open. Don't worry about it,'" Osweiler said. "But that goes back to when I was a freshman in college. But the thing with Gerell is I can trust him. I know he's going to make the catch. I know he's going to get open. He's going to make that tough catch."
Osweiler went to Robinson early, and Robinson hauled in the first catch of the game – a 14-yard snag over the middle. Osweiler went back to him on the second drive of the game and Robinson turned it into 45 yards and put the Broncos inside the red zone.
With another catch in the second quarter, Robinson went in at halftime already having tallied 70 yards.
"I was really excited to see the connection between him and Brock," said Omar Bolden, who also played with the two Sun Devils at ASU. "It's something that I saw for a while. It's just good to see those guys make some big plays tonight."
When Dysert came in after halftime, he followed Osweiler's lead and targeted Robinson on his first drive. The two connected for a 25-yard touchdown that put the Broncos out in front 17-10.
"It was a soft press, and their corners, they're not as aggressive as ours," Robinson said of the touchdown grab. "So he was three or four yards off, and I made sure I got close. Coach says, 'Get close to get open,' so I got close and I was able to beat him and keep it on the shoulder.
"It was a great pass and great protection, so I was able to make the play."
Robinson, who Dysert called a "playmaker" after the game, caught everything thrown his way through the first three quarters. Though he and Dysert missed a couple of times in the fourth, Dysert's final completion of the game was to Robinson.
With the preseason now over, Robinson was reflective on the training camp he put together, noting that he liked the progress he had made. Now he's hoping – although without anxiety, he said – that the effort he's shown and the things he's learned will be rewarded.
"With myself, I'm happy with the strides that I've made, because at this time last year, I was struggling," he said. "I was able to go down to Arizona and learn from Fitz (Larry Fitzgerald) and take some of the things that he had and implement them into my game, and then come up here and take things from Deck (Eric Decker), D.T. (Demaryius Thomas) and Wes (Welker) and use it all and be able to use it in the final product and be able to play on Sundays."