KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson both were drafted by the Chiefs in 2016, and as mid-round picks from the South who play the same position, it’s little wonder they bonded quickly.
It’s not unusual, for instance, to see the two engage in a spirited game of 1-on-1 in the Chiefs’ locker room — there’s a basketball hoop above one door — or yell at each other during games for motivation.
“We get juice from each other when I’m not on the field and he’s on the field, or even when I’m doing special teams stuff and he’s not,” Robinson said. “We juice each other up.”
Take the Chiefs’ win over Houston on Sunday, for instance. When Robinson — a former full-time gunner on punt coverage — was inserted into that role, Hill was in his ear the whole way.
“I got a gunner rep, and he was like ‘Bro let’s go, show ‘em why you’re supposed to still be on there,’ “ Robinson recalled. “He gave me motivation and let me know I could still be on the field, too.”
So imagine what that relationship could be like Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, provided Robinson earns the first starting nod of his career in place of Chris Conley, who is out for the season because of a torn Achilles.
Robinson, 23, has already logged 32 offensive snaps this season compared to six all year as a rookie. He has caught three passes for 25 yards.
“I feel really good about D-Rob,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “Obviously, we are bummed for Chris. I think it is an opportunity for Demarcus. I think he is ready. He has been sitting and watching and growing a lot. He has a ton of ability. So I am excited for him to get in and get an opportunity.”
Robinson, 6 feet 1 and 203 pounds, followed an impressive showing in organized team activities with a largely quiet training camp, at least until the final preseason game, when he lit up the Tennessee Titans for 127 yards and a touchdown on only three catches.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he likes Robinson’s run-after-the-catch ability and deep ball skills, and noted that his chemistry with Smith has improved.
“I think he’s comfortable with Demarcus,” Reid said of Smith. “We worked Demarcus in with the 1s at training camp, so they know each other. (Jehu) Chesson the same thing, he got a little work in there with the first group during camp. Not as much as what Demarcus did, but still he got enough in there too. It’s a good group right there.”
Robinson said he feels good about his grasp of the offense, specifically at Conley’s “X” spot, where Robinson has worked the most. He might be leaned on to play there, too, especially because No. 3 receiver Albert Wilson didn’t practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.
“It took me a good year to get acquainted with the offense,” Robinson said. “But now, since I’m like, in the offense actually doing stuff, it’s coming easier and faster and I can cope with it.”
Robinson is excited to show what he can do, and prove he can be the thunder to his buddy Hill’s lightning at receiver.
“I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like when we’re on the field together,” Robinson said. “To see him go out and do it and know you can do the same thing is just a good feeling. We’re gonna see if we can both go out and do it on Sunday.”