GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Robert Tonyan burst onto the NFL scene last year with 11 touchdowns and 52 receptions in his third season, and when you consider he had just two touchdowns and 14 catches the previous two years combined, who knows how high his ceiling will be. Tonyan was not only disappointed with his performance in Jacksonville, but his teams overall.
“Just preparation I guess, mostly. That’s not us, and it will probably never happen again. Obviously, everyone’s in shock that it happened, so at least we’re all on the same page with that. That wasn’t us. What’s good is that we kind of moved past that because we didn’t really know what the heck that was. On to next week and take what we can learn from it and flush the bad stuff and just keep on rolling.”
Tonyan’s stat line from the season opener against the Saints doesn’t impress by any measure with just two receptions for 8 yards including one dropped pass, something he hasn’t had much of in his career. According to profootballreference.com, he had by far the best catching percentage during the 2020 season at 88.1%, which was almost 10% better than Panthers WR Curtis Samuel at 79.4%.
“I’m just next play mentality and have a short mindset because the ball is going to coming to me eventually again, so I’ve just got to be ready for that, rather than hanging my head on that.”
Tonyan was originally signed by Detroit after spending his college career at Indiana State, and even though he has faced the Lions already in his career, there has never been a “revenge factor” ever since they cut him.
“Not much, really just another team and another opportunity to showcase what this offense and what this team is about. I kind of don’t really have a chip on my shoulder or bad blood necessarily, just another good opportunity to play football and show who we are.”
Following a stellar prep career in both football and basketball at McHenry high school in Illinois, whereas a quarterback he set his schools record with 5,000 yards passing, Tonyan started just three games at QB in college at Indiana State. He then switched to wide receiver, and ultimately tight end at the pro level, where blocking is something he’s continually working on.
“Every day I try to get better at that because obviously, that’s not what I was growing up doing. I was throwing the football and catching the football my whole life. But last year, just kind of locked into like ‘I can do it, I’m strong, I can bend, I’m physical.’ I was just getting used to it and seeing the looks and playing fast in the box.”
Tonyan has had the luxury of learning about life in the trenches by playing with Marcedes Lewis, who is going into his 16th season in the NFL. And having that kind of veteran presence in his position group can only elevate his game.
“Playing next to him [Marcedes Lewis] is obviously very encouraging and brings me confidence, and then A-Rod putting us in the right positions to have those matchups and make those blocks is huge. Just day by day, just keep getting better, that’s obviously what I want to get better at mostly. I can run and catch all day, but can I put my face on someone for 4 quarters? I just challenge myself (to do) that every day.”