After Tuesday's XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp session, Travian Robertson was just a little out of breath talking about the amount of up-downs he's had to do since defensive line coach Bryan Cox came aboard. Under Cox, mistakes earn 10 up-downs, and Robertson couldn't even keep track of the number that he's been assigned.
That's not a bad thing, he says. It's all part of the learning process under Cox, and Robertson looks to be making the most of it through the first week of camp. Robertson has responded well to Cox's teaching, one of the main points being personal responsibility for your own progression.
"That's the thing. He makes us be responsible for ourselves," Robertson said Tuesday. "If we mess up, he makes us pay for it, but if we do good, he gives us credit, and that's all about being a man and being responsible. He's not only teaching us football stuff but he's making sure that we're being men about what we're going to do, and that we come together as a D-line and take care of business."
That started in the offseason for Robertson, who took the combination of Cox's teachings and the additions of several new defensive linemen both in free agency and the NFL Draft and turned it into the motivation to work even harder leading up to camp.
He spent significant time with the Falcons' Athletic Performance Department to work on his already impressive strength. He's one of the strongest weight room members of the Falcons roster, but the former seventh-rounder out of South Carolina had to figure out what to do with it.
"I always knew I was strong. I talked to TD (Thomas Dimitroff) and I talked to all the coaches and they know I'm strong — it's just knowing how to use it the right way on the field," Robertson said. "You can do it in the weight room but once you get on the field, you've got to know how to use it, so that's what I focused on in the offseason, just working on using my strength on other guys."
Listed at 6-foot-4, 304 pounds, Robertson is finding himself in a crowded situation along the defensive line. Robertson is mainly working behind Soliai at nose tackle, but it's something that he's growing more and more comfortable with every day, and he's learning it's the perfect spot for someone of his strength.
When the pads came on at the start of this week, that comfortability showed immensely as Robertson didn't lose many one-on-one battles with the offensive linemen. He was able to get into the backfield on many occasions and help collapse the pocket.
As a former seventh-rounder who's looking to make an impact on a defensive line full of weight and talent, his strength is proving to be a separating factor as the all-important preseason nears, where he will have the chance to do the same thing in game situations.
"Coach (Mike) Nolan just talks about — getting sacks is not always disrupting the quarterback, so if we can get in the quarterback's face or just collapse the pocket, that's just as big as getting a sack and that just opens up room for Osi (Umenyiora) to come in or Mass (Jonathan Massaquoi) to come in and make a play," Robertson said.
"Getting push in that backfield, getting in the quarterback's face is important, so that's what we try to focus on — just getting that push, being strong, stop standing on the line of scrimmage and creating a new line of scrimmage."