Notebook: Vikings cornerback depth tested

Injuries to several of the top cornerbacks could leave the Vikings testing their depth in the preseason opener. See what the injured had to say, plus get practice notes from Monday, including some impressive punting.

Ten days into training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato and the depth at cornerback is being tested.

Although none of the Minnesota Vikings' injuries have been considered serious, the amount of minor injuries at cornerback over the last several days could have an effect on the preseason opener.

Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson, who are in the middle of a battle for the starting cornerback spot opposite Chris Cook, have both been limited by minor injuries. Each is dealing with a hamstring injury.

"It's just a little bother in my leg and I'll work through it," Robinson said.

Still, during one-on-one work, it appears Robinson tweaked the hamstring while trying to stay with the double moves of Greg Jennings. Robinson was shut down for the remainder of that practice period but returned during full-team work and broke up a pass intended for Jennings.

"He's tough (to defend). Having a guy like that to go against in practice, it makes you better for the games," Robinson said.

Robinson is trying to get acclimated to a move inside to the nickel cornerback spot after spending his rookie season working on the outside. There are some major differences in the two positions.

"One, you have run fit and then it's all new assignments – different drops as far as zone coverages and stuff like that. It's just different because I haven't been there before," he said.

But the more physical nature of the position will make Friday's game important for Robinson. He will get a chance to show what he can do as a run defender while playing closer to the action.

"Definitely. It's going to be an opportunity to show that I can play inside and do it well," he said.

Of course, that's predicated on the notion that he will be able to play through the hamstring injury, an inquiry that was met with only an "I hope so" and "Lord willing" when asked about his availability for Friday.

Rhodes said twice after sitting out Monday's practice that he is "day by day" and wasn't making any predictions for Friday's preseason opener.

CB A.J. Jefferson was also limited Monday for unspecified reasons, and CB Brandon Burton was slow to get up after an injury to his right ankle.

NOTES

  • Rhodes and LB Desmond Bishop (groin) both sat out practice and did rehabilitative work on a side field.

    "Not overly concerned unless it lingers, so we'll see," head coach Leslie Frazier said about Bishop. "He will be day-to-day and hopefully we can get him back and get him some action on Friday night, but we'll have to wait and see."

  • Backup center Joe Berger was absent Monday tending to a personal matter that came up Sunday night. "Not sure the date of his return, but I may be able to share more about that later on, but he had to leave for a personal matter," Frazier said.

  • Marcus Sherels is the reliable incumbent at punt returner, but the Vikings plan to give WR Stephen Burton and CB Bobby Felder opportunities on Friday, and maybe work in a turn for Cordarrelle Patterson or Jarius Wright.

  • Although Frazier plans to sit some of the key starters for the preseason opener, he plans to have the team in pads through Wednesday.

    "We're going to continue to have padded practice," he said. "We're working towards the regular season and so I think those padded practices are necessary this time of year."

  • Mistral Raymond returned to practice after missing Saturday' practice under the lights because of a hamstring injury.

  • LB Erin Henderson came away with the play of the day on a Christian Ponder pass for TE Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph appeared to make the catch over Henderson's head, similar to Rudolph's touchdown last year against Denver, but Henderson somehow wrestled the ball away from Rudolph for the interception.

  • WR Joe Webb, S Brandan Bishop and LB Michael Mauti got into a minor scuffle after Bishop broke up a pass for Webb and got into a shoving match. Mauti entered late to defend Bishop.

  • DE Brian Robison knocked down two passes during team drills.

  • Rookie punter Jeff Locke continues to impress. Punting out of his own end zone at the end of offensive possessions, he kicked one 70 yards that was fielded inside the opposing 30-yard line and kicked the second one over Patterson's head that went 70 yards in the air and gained another 20 yards after the bounce. Both were aided by only a slight breeze.
    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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