'Lowest point ... in my life': Commanders RB Brian Robinson returns to practice after shooting

ASHBURN, Va. — Five weeks ago, Brian Robinson laid in a hospital bed as the victim of an attempted robbery that left him with two gunshot wounds.

"That," Robinson said Wednesday, "was probably the lowest point I've ever been in my life.

"My passion for this game runs so deep. I never thought I'd be in a situation where I had to question or be questioned if I would be able to return back to playing football."

Fast forward 38 days, and the Washington Commanders rookie running back was back at practice – a welcome sight for his coaches, his teammates, and, most of all, himself.

Robinson completed one drill that required him to juke, cut and high-step. He lacked the complete confidence he could finish it without feeling like himself. But he did. Afterward, he pointed one arm toward the overcast sky.

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Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr., works out during practice at the team's facility Oct. 5, 2022.
Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr., works out during practice at the team's facility Oct. 5, 2022.

"By the time I finished that drill, I knew that I was at least where I needed to be," Robinson said, "if not a little bit further as far as the progress I've made.

The recovery impressed fellow running back Jonathan Williams.

"He's half-Wolverine or something, I don't know," Williams said. "I didn't know the timetable for (the injury). I'm not a doctor, but nothing really surprises me about him."

Robinson has been around the team for weeks and even returned to the facility days after he was attacked. But this was the first time he joined his teammates in line for warmups. Quarterback Carson Wentz extended a hearty handshake prior to the start of some light passing drills.

"Sometimes you just have to remove yourself from football," Wentz said, "and realize how big of a deal this is."

After one agility drill, Robinson pointed one arm toward the sky.

"I did a little bit more than I thought I would be able to do today," Robinson said, "so that's positive."

His status for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans is still undecided, coach Ron Rivera said.

“He looked solid. His conditioning will be a question, that’s for sure. But just watching him, his retention, his recall looks pretty good.”

The next hurdle is how Robinson feels Thursday morning. If the Alabama product can practice again, the coaching staff will monitor closely. Any drop-offs in speed or explosiveness will be caught on the GPS trackers the strength and conditioning and training staffs use.

The joy was evident, Rivera said. Robinson wanted to do more, but the coaching staff had to reign him in.

"It was kind of an unreal moment for us – very happy and ecstatic that he’s back with the group," running back Jarret Patterson told USA TODAY Sports. "He brings so much to the running back room, not only on the field, but off it. This room is a close bunch."

Robinson also brings – literally – cookies (Oreo's usually) to fulfill his rookie requirements, an example of how he has remained engaged with the team since the shooting.

“I think his mental frame of mind is really good," Rivera said. "One thing we talked about is how fortunate he is, and he understands that."

Washington D.C. Metro Police has said it believes Robinson was the victim of an attempted armed robbery. (Robinson and the Commanders have not discussed the incident, citing an ongoing investigation.)

Robinson spent one night in the hospital, had surgery and was released the next day. The bullets missed all the major ligaments and bones in his knee. Once the doctors told Robinson his football career would not end, it all came into focus for him.

"I expect to dominate as soon as I come back on the field," Robinson said. "I don't really want to get too much into what's in the past. I just plan on moving forward and looking for what's ahead of us and try to help this team make some progress."

The Commanders can certainly use the third-round pick on offense. They have scored eight and 10 points in their last two games, respectively, and are averaging 4.1 yards per rushing attempt. Robinson, 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, is also expected to be a contributor in the passing game.

After playing sparingly between 2017-2020 at Alabama, Robinson emerged as the lead back last season and rushed for 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also had 35 catches for 296 yards in 14 games.

Robinson was asked what his message is to other people who are dealing with adverse situations. He said that there will be ups. There will be more downs.

"You just got to fight," Robinson said. "You got to fight to the end, fighting to the finish. Just keep fighting away until the time comes.

"Pretty much, that's how my process of recovering has been: just fighting and attacking and, every single day I came in here, came today, I was able to go out on the football field again.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Commanders' Brian Robinson reflects on 'lowest point' after shooting