Aldrick Robinson and the Carolina Panthers began training camp Thursday at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
This season marks the ninth in the NFL for the 2007 Waxahachie graduate. And, though he has a new team and new quarterback hurling the pigskin his direction, Robinson has returned to the number that started it all — 8.
Robinson is wearing the same single-digit number (8) that he wore while starring on the field for the Waxahachie Indians in high school. It also marks the first time in his NFL career to wear a single-digit number, having worn 11, 15, 13, 19 and 17 with the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings.
Regardless of the number on his back, Robinson's primary goal will be undoubtedly to make the 53-man roster with former NFL MVP Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
Oddly enough, however, Robinson is the second Waxahachie alumnus to suit up alongside Newton. Duke Bohall, a 2008 Waxahachie grad, played defensive back for Blinn College in 2009 when Newton led the Buccaneers to a junior college national championship.
Newton went on to win an NCAA national championship with Auburn the following year.
As for Robinson and his first season with the Panthers, his return the to the field Thursday came following a hamstring injury that held him out of the majority of the Panthers mini-camp in June.
The 30-year-old wide receiver will now have to impress daily during training camp to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. The situation is not an unfamiliar one, either.
"I came into this league as a sixth-round draft pick, and then I was on the practice squad my first year, so I have always had a little chip on my shoulder," Robinson told the Daily Light during his 2018 training camp with the 49ers. "It has never been certain for me. I have attacked every camp as a position battle, and it has been for me. I've never had a clear-cut, for sure spot on any roster in all of my years of football. I have always had to compete. You get used to it, and you know that if you just put your best foot forward that it'll all play out the way it is supposed to play out."
He added, "Every camp for me feels the same. It is just going out there and working to get better and getting ready for these games coming up. It is all about sharpening your tools and making sure the tools that you have in your toolbox are ready to go on game day."
Robinson enters the 2019 season with 86 career receptions for 1,422 yards and 14 touchdowns after signing a one-year, $805,000 deal with the Panthers in May.
Robinson scored a career-high five of those touchdowns on 17 catches for 231 yards last season for the Vikings, which was his fifth NFL team since being drafted out of SMU in 2011.
"They want to stretch the field," Robinson told Panthers.com after the signing. They want me to add to that. They like my speed and my ability to open things up. I can create separation and get by defenders."
Scout.com projects Robinson to account for 6.3 touchdowns and 326 receiving yards on 23.4 receptions this season, which would rank out as the 86th-ranked best wide receiver in the NFL.
Danny Jaillet, of Fansided's Cat Crave blog that focuses on the Carolina Panthers, wrote in an article this past week that the additions of Robinson and veteran wideout Chris Hogan to DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel is one reason for Carolina fans to be excited this season.
"Now, the Carolina Panthers have a bit more balance at the position," Jaillet stated. "[The Panthers] have multiple receivers who can do a variety of things. Additionally, they are fast. Speed is important in today's National Football League. The Panthers certainly have a lot of it. All Newton should have to worry about is focusing on getting the ball into their hands. They have the ability to take care of the rest."
He added, "That potential level of explosion is not something we have seen from a Carolina Panthers receiving group in years. This group has the potential to be very different. That is certainly a welcome development for the Panthers, who would like to see their offense get a bit more multi-dimensional. They can do that with this group of receivers, and that should definitely make fans excited for 2019."
Robinson and the Panthers play their first of four preseason games Thursday, Aug. 8 against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.