Packers wide receiver Robinson returns to practice after suspension

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Wide receiver Koren Robinson rejoined the Green Bay Packers as they returned from their bye week Monday, his first practice with the team since his reinstatement from a one-year suspension.

"It's a great feeling. To get out there for the first time with them, it's overwhelming, really," said Robinson, who was reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week after serving the suspension for his third violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

Robinson spent the weekend with quality control assistant Ty Knott reacquainting himself with the Packers offense.

"I'm just happy to be back and happy I got this second opportunity," he said.

Coach Mike McCarthy said he hasn't decided whether Robinson will play in the Packers' next game, Monday night at Denver.

In fact, McCarthy said he has yet to receive clarification from the league on how long Robinson's roster exemption lasts. There's some confusion as to whether it expires on Wednesday or on Oct. 31.

"That hasn't been really cleared up for myself yet," McCarthy said. "He looked really good today. ... If we feel he's ready to go to Denver, it's a moot point."

Robinson said he could be activated and play against the Broncos, despite having been away from the game since his appeal was denied on Oct. 17, 2006.

"They're 5-1. I just want to contribute anywhere I can," said Robinson, who played in four games for the Packers last season, catching seven passes for 89 yards and averaging 21.1 yards on 12 kickoff returns after signing with the team on Sept. 11, 2006.

"They're playing pretty good right now," he said. "I'm just trying to come in, throw my little two cents into the equation and hopefully it comes out. I'm just trying to get in where I fit in."

During his suspension, Robinson spent time in jails in Kirkland, Wash., Nicollet County, Minn., and Green Bay in connection with a pair of alcohol-related arrests. The most recent arrest was on Aug. 15, 2006, when he led police in Mankato, Minn., on a high-speed chase. Police said he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11 percent, above Minnesota's legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Since his release Aug. 2 from the Nicollet County jail, Robinson worked out with personal trainer Ken Croner in Phoenix.

Robinson struggled some during individual drills, drawing criticism from receivers coach Jimmy Robinson for not tucking the ball away quickly after catching it, not dragging his feet properly on a sideline drill and failing to "catch and accelerate" on a few longer routes.

Both McCarthy and Robinson said he will benefit from the extended week of practice because the installation of the game plan is more spread out.

McCarthy called it the perfect week for Robinson to return, and his teammates seemed impressed with his conditioning.

"I saw him before practice, and he looked slim, looked great. He looked like he was running well. I think they're going to stick him right in and let him work," said cornerback Charles Woodson, who covered Robinson during the 11-on-11 periods in practice.

"The hard thing is getting back in football shape," he said. "It's going to be tough in Denver with the altitude and all that, but once you get in there and run a couple routes, block a few times and get a ball here, a ball there, run a kickoff return back, the feeling of football is going to be there for him. I'm sure he'll be ready for it."

Robinson said that he is ready to play and also to move forward with his sobriety.

"It was hard being away from the game I love, something I'm so passionate about, being away from my teammates, not being able to go out on the field with them, but at the same time, I feel like I found myself," Robinson said.

He has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and taking the drug Disulfiram (also known as Antabuse), which makes a person sick if they drink any alcohol.

"It's a lovely thing. I realize that I'm strong enough to cope with anything that comes my way without getting drunk or using alcohol," he said. "I feel good. Me and alcohol don't mix. If I drink alcohol, I (end up in) handcuffs. That's how it is. So I know it's not part of my equation, and I'm going to keep it like that. I have a lot to look forward to, and I'm trying to get there."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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