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Two hours of practice in the heat and humidity weren't enough for Pete Robertson.

 

As dripping teammates slowly ambled to the locker room and showers Sunday DeShone Kizer Jersey , Robertson lined up on one sideline and sprinted across the field to the other sideline. Then and back, over and over again, for extra conditioning.

As the linebacker tries to make it all the way back from a debilitating back injury that threatened to take football away for good, he's leaving nothing to chance as he tries to make the Washington Redskins.

"It's been a long journey," he said.

A very effective pass rusher at Texas Tech, Robertson figured to be drafted before he herniated a disk in his back while working out before the draft. The injury led to a pinched nerve, and after Robertson insisted on running at his Pro Day workout for scouts, he never heard his name called during the NFL draft.

He signed a free agent deal with the Seattle Seahawks, but didn't stick, and had been working the graveyard shift loading trucks at UPS for three months when his agent called. The Redskins were interested.

Before hanging up, Robertson told him, "'They aren't ever going to let me go' and I've been here ever since."

And more and more, he seems likely to stick around for a while.

"Petey has been unbelievable," fifth-year coach Jay Gruden said before a recent practice. "Yeah, he's been great. Very Kirk Cousins Jersey Big , very athletic, and you're talking about a guy that can possibly help on special teams, as your fourth or fifth linebacker, and he's one because he can run."

When the Redskins signed Robertson last December, they initially used him at running back on the scout team because of a need there. He got in four games and made two tackles late in the season. A defensive end in college, the team has since tried him at inside linebacker, Gruden said, but "that wasn't quite his cup of tea."

"We moved him back down as an outside linebacker/defensive end in nickel. He's done very, very well."

And made an impression on teammates with his willingness to work.

"You know, when we had a lot of guys down and out, he got a lot of reps and you could see the burst that he has and the speed," offensive tackle Morgan Moses said. "He brings another aspect to the game and he works hard, man.

"There's not one thing you tell him to do that he's not going to do it. You tell him to go get some water 50 yards down the field, he's going to run and get water 50 yards down the field. He just has that mentality."

It's an appreciation of a second chance Robertson wasn't sure he'd get.

The thought that football might be in his past "went through my mind every night, every morning Scottie Upshall Jersey ," he said. "Before I went to bed, when I woke up. ... I knew it wasn't the end of the road for me. I knew it wasn't. I never gave up on the dream, but you always have that thought in the back of your mind: 'Is this it?'"

In the offseason, Robertson added back the 30 pounds he'd lost while away from the game during day-long weekday workouts with his cousin, Redskins star left tackle Trent Williams. Williams was rehabbing after a right knee injury, and Robertson knew he had to make a big impression once the Redskins opened training camp.

So far, he's doing just that, and enjoying it every step of the way.

"I wouldn't trade it for nothing," he said.

Alex Smith is frustrating Josh Norman.

 

Norman likes having Smith with the Washington Redskins, but practice time against the veteran quarterback at training camp hasn't been as beneficial as the big-money cornerback had hoped. That's because Smith has been so on-point with his decision-making and throws that Norman isn't getting a whole lot of work in team drills.

"You're in great position, you get there top of the route, you're ready for your play to be made and it doesn't come," Norman said. "But the ones you are a little step behind on and you're almost there to make it, he throws it. It's those games, cat and mouse Cassius Marsh Jersey , man. It's cat-and-mouse games that it just sucks when you're the mouse."

Norman feels like the mouse early in camp but hopes facing a QB like Smith each day benefits him in the long run. Entering the third season of a $75 million, five-year contract, Norman is balancing the lack of work he's getting during 11-on-11 time with his usual half-hour plus of individual drills after practice as one of the last players on the field.

"That's what you've got to do to be the best, to be great like him," said undrafted rookie safety Quin Blanding, who worked out with Norman following practice Sunday. "It just shows he wants extra work no matter all the work he's done in practice. It's always find ways to get better, and that's what he's doing."

Norman is known for his post-practice regimen, whether it's going for jump balls or catching in rapid succession out of a JUGS machine. But none of that compares to team snaps, where Smith is avoiding Norman the way he would in a real game.

"I'm just staying the course and trying to understand that your technique is not flawed, continue to do what you do even though your chances are not coming," Norman said. "But when they do come, try to be better than the quarterback in making a play. He's so precise right now, so he's not making mistakes, and that's the biggest thing you've seen. Even in practice, he's not making mistakes. It's hard to try to key in on that."

Coach Jay Gruden approves. His offense is built around quick decisions and finding the right receiver to throw to Maxx Williams Jersey , and that's not usually by challenging Norman.

"Josh is getting plenty of work," Gruden said Tuesday. "We're not going to throw a flat route out to Josh Norman and let him pick it. That's just common sense, so Josh is going to have to wait for somebody else to throw it to him."

Norman is still isolating elements of his game to work on at age 30, going into his seventh NFL season. He had no interceptions last year and dropped more than a handful of prime opportunities, so at practice he's working on the little things that turn a broken-up pass into a pick.

"Being in place is the first part, but finishing the ball should be something that already is established and ingrained in you," Norman said. "It's just that six inches from making a play to not making a play."

Trying to close the gap on those inches is what goes into Norman's extra work after practice. And in the process, he's helping young defensive backs like Blanding and Kenny Ladler develop the same kind of habits.

"You fix the mistakes and then when it comes again, you don't make the same mistake," Blanding said. "You've got to be ready to work no matter if it feels like a great day of practice or if it was a bad day of practice. You've got to put that aside and you've just got to work. You've got to keep on working, and that's what he does."

NOTES: RB Chris Thompson, who's recovering from surgery to repair a broken right fibula, took his first snaps in team drills Tuesday. ... LB Mason Foster was limited at practice by a strained stomach muscle.

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