Khiry Robinson looking for bigger role with Saints

Who does Khiry Robinson think he is?

You give the guy a Saints roster spot in 2013 and one season later, he thinks he can contribute even more. Maybe start.

Leave the rushing to Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. After all, he’d be forced to change your Twitter handle: @_numberthreeRB.

“I just try to stay focused on the playbook and ... figure out what my role is on this team,” Robinson said after Sunday morning’s training camp practice session at The Greenbrier Resort.

“When I figure it out, I’ll go a 1,000 miles per hour.”

You mean he runs even faster?

Started from the bottom

It started last summer: Robinson dared to surprise the Saints coaching staff.

“If you asked me last year at this time how I felt about his progress coming out of the spring, it was OK,” Saints coach Sean Payton said last week of Robinson, a former undrafted free agent from West Texas A&M, a Division II school.

“All of a sudden, the pads came on,” Payton continued. “He was a different type runner than we expected, and that kind of defined him.”

Robinson became the latest unheralded Saints rookie to earn a spot on the regular-season roster.

He then worked his way from the sideline at Gillette Stadium during the third quarter of a Week 6 game at New England. He rushed for 53 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run which shifted momentum to the Saints in a game New England eventually won 30-27.

Robinson made his next contribution for the playoff-bound Saints during their regular season finale against Tampa Bay, rushing for 50 yards on 12 carries.

His finished his rookie season with 224 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and one score.

Robinson’s story didn’t end there.

One week later, he finished with 45 yards on eight carries against Philadelphia to help the Saints win their first road playoff game in franchise history. The performance earned him a start during the following week’s NFC divisional playoff.

There, Robinson rushed 13 times for 57 yards while scoring the Saints’ first TD of the game, a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Seattle dominated though, on its way to eventually winning Super Bowl XLVIII.

Back at camp

Sometimes it feel like im dreaming man... im blessed — Robinson on Twitter

Back at work this week, Robinson has looked even faster, a combination of his slimmer and trimmer physique and better understanding of the game. It’s slowing down, as they say.

Robinson’s improved pass protection will help decide if he’s good enough to flip-flop depth chart positions with Thomas and Ingram, his Heisman Trophy-winning teammate — believed to be the favorite to earn the most carries out of the backfield.

“I feel like I’m picking it up a lot more and understanding the defenses, the blitzes and all that more, along with the protections,” Robinson said.

Already, the Saints appear to be poised to cut ties with Ingram or Thomas after this season. Ingram’s is in the final year of his rookie contract and the Saints were unsuccessful this offseason in trading Thomas.

That leaves Robinson, whose salary ($495,333) is nearly one quarter of Ingram’s in 2013 ($1.85 million), and a fifth of Thomas’ deal ($2.3 million). Young and cheaper (for now), Robinson is their likely successor in 2015, and perhaps this season.

It wouldn’t be the first time Robinson has forced the Saints to rethink their plans.