Twenty minutes after practice and Brian Robiskie is still on the field.
Most of his teammates have headed to the locker room, but Robiskie is busy signing autographs. As Robiskie casually jogs over to the sidelines, fans cheer, clap and shout.
They push and squirm, trying to get the best spot to ensure a piece of signed memorabilia. Robiskie makes his way down the line, signing everything in sight, and striking up some small talk with the kids standing in admiration.
“I’ll be right back,” Robiskie says after working through the crowd.
He turns and heads to the locker room with a sense of urgency. A few moments later, he returns. He has a few pairs of extra gloves for some young fans, giving them a souvenir to remember.
Robiskie knows what it feels like to be a kid standing on that side of the rope, watching your idols work.
“Being an Ohio guy, going to high school, going to college in Ohio, and having the opportunity to come back here and play for the Browns, you can see the support from all of the Ohio fans,” said Robiskie, a Chagrin Falls native. “It’s very appreciated.”
The support from those fans has only grown this summer, as Robiskie looks like he could have a breakout second season. Coaches plan for him to have a more integral role in the offense, and he has worked almost entirely with the first team in training camp, appearing much improved from his rookie season.
“I feel good,” Robiskie said. “For me, I’m excited to come out here. I’m excited to do what I can to help this team.”
After the Browns drafted Robiskie in the second round of the 2009 draft, he dressed in 11 games and caught just seven passes for 106 yards in his rookie season, certainly a disappointment based on expectations. Coach Eric Mangini used him sparingly for most of the year, and Cleveland fans never saw the big-play potential that Robiskie demonstrated at Ohio State.
But Robiskie can hardly shoulder all the blame. The Browns struggled across the board last season, and had the worst offense in the NFL, scoring just 11 touchdowns through the air.
Regardless of who was to blame, the coaches told Robiskie at the end of last season that the expectations in his second year would be much higher, and that he needed to take his game to another level.
“I don’t think it was any one or two things that they stressed,” Robiskie said. “It was just, ‘take this off-season and get better. Take the time to do the little things. Just get better every day.’”
Neither Robiskie nor the coaches have highlighted one area where his game has significantly improved. Instead, they talk about having a better grasp on the offense and knowing what to expect.
“It just happens at different times for different people,” Mangini said. “Sometimes it takes guys a year to really get a sense of the system, get a sense of the league, get a sense of requirements, all those things.”
With his understanding of the game now at a much more detailed level, coaches say Robiskie’s continued development from this point will reflect how hard he works.
That does not appear to be a concern.
Robiskie is almost always one of the last players to leave the field, staying late to catch balls after practice or talk with the coaches.
“These kids, they want to work,” quarterback Jake Delhomme said. “Look at Brian Robiskie, it’s 30 minutes after practice and he’s out there catching balls. They get it, they want to be good.”
After a solid start to training camp, Robiskie knows that the expectations for him and the team are elevated. Now, it is just a matter of carrying over that development into the season.
“It just feels like I’m continuing to progress,” he said. “I think that’s all I wanted to do. From this day on, I’m just going to keep doing that.”