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Giants hope Pope can mentor rookie tight end

Cincinnati's Adrien Robinson (88) catches a pass for

Cincinnati's Adrien Robinson (88) catches a pass for a touchdown as he's defended by Tennessee Volunteers linebacker Daryl Vereen (9) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game. (Sept. 10, 2011) Credit: AP

The Giants are hoping one of the longest-serving members of their family will be able to bring out the best in one of the newest.

As rookies report for minicamp this weekend, the relationship between assistant coach Mike Pope and fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson will begin to develop. Robinson was a tight end at Cincinnati who caught only 29 passes in the spread offense there. He was so far below the radar come draft time that he wasn't invited to the combine.

But the Giants were impressed by his pro day measurables (6-4, 264, 4.51 40-yard dash) and knew they had something other teams didn't to draw out Robinson's potential: Pope.

Now in his 30th year of NFL coaching and his 22nd with the Giants, Pope is the guru of tight- ends coaches around the league. He turned spare-parts players Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard into legitimate weapons in recent years. Robinson may be one of the last alchemy challenges of Pope's career. Jerry Reese called Robinson "the JPP of tight ends" when he drafted him.

It's a good bet that if the Giants did not have Pope on their staff, they would not have taken a chance on Robinson. Not in the fourth round, anyway.

"It's a big factor,'' Tom Coughlin said. "When [a tight end] comes our way, chances are you're going to hear 'Well, Mike Pope will coach that guy and he'll be a football player.' We're hoping that can continue."

When Robinson visited before the draft, he said he spent about an hour speaking with Pope. His job will be to turn Robinson from someone hardly anyone had heard of before the draft into a well-rounded, every-down tight end. That transformation begins this weekend.

"We think he can develop,'' Coughlin said. "We think with Mike Pope, just like a lot of people think, he can become the player we hope that he will be."

Notes & quotes: East Meadow's Rich Ohrnberger, a two-time all-Long Island player who won the Thorp and Martone awards as Nassau's top high school player and lineman, will attend minicamp as a tryout. He was drafted by the Patriots in 2009 and played five games . . . S Chad Jones, a 2010 draft pick whose career was derailed by a near-fatal car accident two years ago, returned home to Louisiana to continue his rehab . . . Robinson and sixth-rounder Matt McCants agreed to terms and will sign rookie contracts during camp this weekend.

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