Notebook: Robison, Allen developing DE depth

Defensive ends Brian Robison and Jared Allen are solid in their starting positions, but they are willingly lending a helping hand to increase the quality of depth behind them. They each talked about that task. Plus, plenty of injury and practice notes from a busy, hot Friday afternoon.

Of all the changes that are taking place on the Vikings roster, one of the few areas where there aren't any questions is at defensive end, at least among the starters. Jared Allen and Brian Robison are entrenched as the starters, so, while they're working to solidify their own games and shake the rust off during training camp, they've also become leaders – both by example and giving instruction to their younger teammates.

Robison has been on the other side of things. As a fourth-round draft pick in 2007, nothing was guaranteed and he had to earn his spot. In his first full season as a starter, he recorded eight sacks and knows that the next line of defense behind him needs to be ready to go. As he learned working his way up through the ranks, successful teams must have healthy starters, but also need to groom talent among those on the second and third line of the depth chart.

"Any time you're talking a defensive unit, you're only as good as your twos and threes," Robison said. "Jared and I have to set the pace and have those young guys fall in behind us and see what they need to do when they hit the field. For us, it's just setting an example, putting it on tape and making sure that we bring them along with us."

Allen relishes the opportunity to help the younger players. When he played in Kansas City (as another fourth-round draft pick), he had veterans that served as his mentors and he is more than willing to pass along the knowledge he has picked up over the years and pay it forward.

"I'm all for it," Allen said. "If guys are eager to learn, I'm all for teaching them. That's how this game stays great – the (current) generation teaching the younger generation."

In 2009 and 2010, the Vikings had one of the oldest teams in the league – a veteran-laden bunch that was kept primarily intact for a long run. But, with the franchise undergoing a youth movement so pronounced that they might be the youngest team in the league when the season starts, Robison believes change is good and, whether you like it or not, inevitable in the NFL.

"That's part of the business," Robison said. "Every year you come in and you're going to have new faces and guys you're used to seeing are gone. It's almost a shuffleboard game."

In his first four seasons, Robison started just seven games and only two in seasons two through four. Yet, when it came time to give out a long-term deal, the Vikings went to him instead of Ray Edwards to make sure they locked him down before he got to free agency. He credits his mantra of never getting complacent and always having the seed planted in the back of his mind that he could lose his job at any time if the team sees something they like in another player. That competitive fire (and some might contend paranoia) has helped him become a fiery competitor who never backs down from a challenge and plays every down – regular season, preseason, training camps or OTAs – like his job depends on it.

"I come into every camp competing for a position," Robison said. "I don't ever feel like my position is (guaranteed). I feel it's one of those things that can change from day to day. I come with an attitude and a chip on my shoulder that I can be the best player I can be. Every offseason I come in with that attitude. Every camp I come in with that attitude. I'm our here trying make plays and help the young guys come along. It's not always what you do on the field, it's the legacy that you leave."

It seems clear the coaching staff believes the Vikings need to work harder in the 2012 training camp than they have in previous years. With so many young players scratching for roster spots, the Vikings have played five straight days will full-pad practices, something Allen hasn't seen in a long time.

"We've been going live," Allen said. "Other than coach (Dick) Vermeil (in Kansas City), this is the second-toughest camp I've been a part of. Five straight days of pads and live periods each day. That was a bit surprising, especially seeing as we're going to be here for three weeks."

How the Vikings roster is comprised will be determined in large part to what happens under the hot August sun of Mankato and the team's preseason schedule. Change was needed and change has come and Robison believes that, in the long run, the lessons learned in August will pay off in November and December as the Vikings try to climb back into playoff contention.

"These are the dog days of camp," Robison said. "We're just trying to push through. We've got this first week down and we're trying to push through. After the season we had last year, it's obvious that work needs to be done. Everyone has to step up, from the rookies to old vets. That's what we'll need to turn this thing around."

FRIDAY PRACTICE NOTES

  • As if the Vikings weren't shorthanded enough along the offensive line with Geoff Schwartz (abdominal strain), DeMarcus Love (shoulder) and Pat Brown (knee) sidelined with injuries, offensive tackle Kevin Murphy was taken to a Mankato hospital as a precaution after overheating in practice. Murphy was taken from the field by a pair of the team's medical personnel and brought by the media tent to the north of the practice fields. An ambulance was backed into place and he was quietly taken away from the field. The ambulance didn't sound its sirens until it was about a block away from the field. After practice, coach Leslie Frazier said Murphy was moved as a precaution.

  • There were several other injuries in practice, but all were minor. Jared Allen turned an ankle and was in obvious pain, but after coming out for a couple of plays he came back in. Percy Harvin appeared to injure the same right pinkie finger that has caused him problems over the last two seasons. But, like Allen, he returned.

  • Eric Frampton got a scare when he and Stephen Burton both went up for a Joe Webb pass. The two collided in mid-air with Burton coming down on top of Frampton at the same time both hit the ground. Initially, it appeared as though Frampton might have a collarbone or shoulder injury, but it was simply a case of getting the wind knocked out of him. He was taken off the field on a golf cart and didn't return.

  • Defensive end Jeff Charleston injured his ankle and wasn't able to practice. Frazier confirmed that an MRI will be done to determine the damage.

  • Josh Robinson was in full pads, but didn't take part in drills that involved running or changing directions. He was clearly favoring his injured hamstring and there is no timetable yet on when he will be able to return to full action.

  • Earlier in the day, Frazier said he expected to know by this afternoon the results of tests being done on Schwartz, who was sent back to the Twin Cities after suffering an abdominal strain Thursday. Frazier said after practice that he has yet to hear any update from the medicos on his condition.

  • During the special teams portions of the practice, the Vikings showed off a little trickery, having Chris Kluwe throw passes out of punt formations.

  • Antoine Winfield sat out the afternoon practice, something Frazier said at the start of camp that he planned to do. He was replaced by Chris Carr and Brandon Burton, both of whom took turns as the nickel corner and playing in the slot.

  • In the two-minute offense, Christian Ponder looked a bit erratic – sailing a handful of passes that were uncatchable. In one full-team drill, Ponder completed six of nine passes and Joe Webb completed five of nine.

  • The hero of the two-minute offense was kicker Blair Walsh, who ran on the field with the clock running and nailed field goals of 55 and 44 yards.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Of all the changes that are taking place on the Vikings roster, one of the few areas where there aren't any questions is at defensive end, at least among the starters. Jared Allen and Brian Robison are entrenched as the starters, so, while they're working to solidify their own games and shake the rust off during training camp, they've also become leaders – both by example and giving instruction to their younger teammates. Robison has been on the other side of things. As a fourth-round draft pick in 2007, nothing was guaranteed and he had to earn his spot. In his first full season as a starter, he recorded eight sacks and knows that the next line of defense behind him needs to be ready to go. As he learned working his way up through the ranks, successful teams must have healthy starters, but also need to groom talent among those on the second and third line of the depth chart. \"Any time you're talking a defensive unit, you're only as good as your twos and threes,\" Robison said. \"Jared and I have to set the pace and have those young guys fall in behind us and see what they need to do when they hit the field. For us, it's just setting an example, putting it on tape and making sure that we bring them along with us.\" Allen relishes the opportunity to help the younger players. When he played in Kansas City (as another fourth-round draft pick), he had veterans that served as his mentors and he is more than willing to pass along the knowledge he has picked up over the years and pay it forward. \"I'm all for it,\" Allen said. \"If guys are eager to learn, I'm all for teaching them. That's how this game stays great – the (current) generation teaching the younger generation.\" In 2009 and 2010, the Vikings had one of the oldest teams in the league – a veteran-laden bunch that was kept primarily intact for a long run. But, with the franchise undergoing a youth movement so pronounced that they might be the youngest team in the league when the season starts, Robison believes change is good and, whether you like it or not, inevitable in the NFL. \"That's part of the business,\" Robison said. \"Every year you come in and you're going to have new faces and guys you're used to seeing are gone. It's almost a shuffleboard game.\" In his first four seasons, Robison started just seven games and only two in seasons two through four. Yet, when it came time to give out a long-term deal, the Vikings went to him instead of Ray Edwards to make sure they locked him down before he got to free agency. He credits his mantra of never getting complacent and always having the seed planted in the back of his mind that he could lose his job at any time if the team sees something they like in another player. That competitive fire (and some might contend paranoia) has helped him become a fiery competitor who never backs down from a challenge and plays every down – regular season, preseason, training camps or OTAs – like his job depends on it. \"I come into every camp competing for a position,\" Robison said. \"I don't ever feel like my position is (guaranteed). I feel it's one of those things that can change from day to day. I come with an attitude and a chip on my shoulder that I can be the best player I can be. Every offseason I come in with that attitude. Every camp I come in with that attitude. I'm our here trying make plays and help the young guys come along. It's not always what you do on the field, it's the legacy that you leave.\" It seems clear the coaching staff believes the Vikings need to work harder in the 2012 training camp than they have in previous years. With so many young players scratching for roster spots, the Vikings have played five straight days will full-pad practices, something Allen hasn't seen in a long time. \"We've been going live,\" Allen said. \"Other than coach (Dick) Vermeil (in Kansas City), this is the second-toughest camp I've been a part of. Five straight days of pads and live periods each day. That was a bit surprising, especially seeing as we're going to be here for three weeks.\" How the Vikings roster is comprised will be determined in large part to what happens under the hot August sun of Mankato and the team's preseason schedule. Change was needed and change has come and Robison believes that, in the long run, the lessons learned in August will pay off in November and December as the Vikings try to climb back into playoff contention. \"These are the dog days of camp,\" Robison said. \"We're just trying to push through. We've got this first week down and we're trying to push through. After the season we had last year, it's obvious that work needs to be done. Everyone has to step up, from the rookies to old vets. That's what we'll need to turn this thing around.\"
  • As if the Vikings weren't shorthanded enough along the offensive line with Geoff Schwartz (abdominal strain), DeMarcus Love (shoulder) and Pat Brown (knee) sidelined with injuries, offensive tackle Kevin Murphy was taken to a Mankato hospital as a precaution after overheating in practice. Murphy was taken from the field by a pair of the team's medical personnel and brought by the media tent to the north of the practice fields. An ambulance was backed into place and he was quietly taken away from the field. The ambulance didn't sound its sirens until it was about a block away from the field. After practice, coach Leslie Frazier said Murphy was moved as a precaution.
  • There were several other injuries in practice, but all were minor. Jared Allen turned an ankle and was in obvious pain, but after coming out for a couple of plays he came back in. Percy Harvin appeared to injure the same right pinkie finger that has caused him problems over the last two seasons. But, like Allen, he returned.
  • Eric Frampton got a scare when he and Stephen Burton both went up for a Joe Webb pass. The two collided in mid-air with Burton coming down on top of Frampton at the same time both hit the ground. Initially, it appeared as though Frampton might have a collarbone or shoulder injury, but it was simply a case of getting the wind knocked out of him. He was taken off the field on a golf cart and didn't return.
  • Defensive end Jeff Charleston injured his ankle and wasn't able to practice. Frazier confirmed that an MRI will be done to determine the damage.
  • Josh Robinson was in full pads, but didn't take part in drills that involved running or changing directions. He was clearly favoring his injured hamstring and there is no timetable yet on when he will be able to return to full action.
  • Earlier in the day, Frazier said he expected to know by this afternoon the results of tests being done on Schwartz, who was sent back to the Twin Cities after suffering an abdominal strain Thursday. Frazier said after practice that he has yet to hear any update from the medicos on his condition.
  • During the special teams portions of the practice, the Vikings showed off a little trickery, having Chris Kluwe throw passes out of punt formations.
  • Antoine Winfield sat out the afternoon practice, something Frazier said at the start of camp that he planned to do. He was replaced by Chris Carr and Brandon Burton, both of whom took turns as the nickel corner and playing in the slot.
  • In the two-minute offense, Christian Ponder looked a bit erratic – sailing a handful of passes that were uncatchable. In one full-team drill, Ponder completed six of nine passes and Joe Webb completed five of nine.
  • The hero of the two-minute offense was kicker Blair Walsh, who ran on the field with the clock running and nailed field goals of 55 and 44 yards.
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