Robinson on kick return still mystery

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
3:57
PM ET
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It happened so fast and with so little attention paid to it at first that it easily could have been missed, but the most interesting wrinkle Michigan added Saturday in its 12-10 win over Michigan State never really happened.

Denard Robinson lined up in the second-to-last row of players on Michigan’s kick return to start the second half on the right side of the field and when the ball was kicked ran back toward the main returner, Dennis Norfleet.

[+] EnlargeDenard Robinson
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesDenard Robinson appeared on the kickoff return team to start the second half against Michigan State.
Then nothing happened, as the kick was a touchback. But it is the first time Robinson has been lined up on kick return, which was a curious development.

“Maybe return a kickoff,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said of Robinson’s presence on the return team.

He wouldn’t divulge much more, although Robinson did not look like he was expecting to receive the kickoff from the way he lined up. Anything else the senior quarterback could have done will apparently remain a mystery for now.

Hoke dodged questions about Robinson and his return role as well as Robinson evades opposing tacklers in the open field.

The coach didn’t say when he made the decision to try the wrinkle. He wouldn’t say where the idea was initiated or what the intent was.

“It was just a good plan,” Hoke said.

Of course, there’s no real idea what that plan was.

Hoke didn’t seem any more concerned about potential injury to Robinson on kick return than at any other time Robinson is on the field, in the locker room or walking and chewing gum at the same time.

“I get concerned when he walks down the street he falls off the curb,” Hoke said. “Really.”

As for whether Robinson might make another appearance on kick return, there’s still anywhere between five and seven games to find out.

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter

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