The youngest Viking may have had his NFL debut delayed, but he's looking to make a quick and positive impression.
Josh Robinson has elite skills, as witnessed by his top-of-class speed numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. What the rookie cornerback doesn't have, yet, is experience in NFL games. That will change Friday with his preseason debut against the Buffalo Bills, a chance that was delayed one week because of a hamstring injury suffered on The Opening day of training camp.
Despite the delay, Robinson has confidence that his skills will, at some point, lead him into the starting lineup.
"Definitely. That's definitely your mindset, trying to solidify a job, so definitely that's what your mindset is," Robinson said. "You just try to go out there and give it your best effort."
The 2012 third-round draft pick has been back at practice for two weeks and making a quick and positive impression.
"The day we got him and we were in a drill with our rookies, the burst that he has separates him from all the other players that we have in the secondary," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "He can close and go from point A to point B as fast as anybody we have or that I've seen. His closing speed is outstanding."
Robinson ran a combine-best 4.33-second 40-yard dash in Indianapolis in February, tied for tops in the broad jump at 11-foot-1 and was best in the three-cone drill at 6.55 seconds. While the NFL isn't based on track evaluations, his speed has shown up on several occasions.
Tuesday was just the latest example. Joe Webb lofted a third-down pass deep down the sideline for Devin Aromashodu, but Robinson closed the gap quickly, jumped up and swatted the pass away.
"(The coaches) just really want to see me compete and they want to see that I've improved and see that I can play at this level," Robinson said.
"I'm just trying to make sure I focus on my mistakes, get better as a team, get better as a player and we'll see where it ends up."
Robinson pointed to mistakes three times during a short interview, but his closing speed has allowed him to cover over those mistakes in short order.
"A lot of guys can run fast straight ahead, but it doesn't show up when you put pads on," Frazier said. "But in his case, it shows up. He has great closing speed, but now it's a matter of can he handle some of the things that come at him – formations, routes, terminology. There's so many things that have to come into play to be a big-time corner in our league."
Frazier would know. He was a starting cornerback for the Chicago Bears in 1985, the year they won the Super Bowl and were considered one of the best defenses to play the game.
But that was six years before Robinson was born. Just 21 years old now, Robinson declared himself eligible for the NFL after his junior season and is still learning the game, despite starting 35 of the 38 games he played at Central Florida.
"There's quite a few things that I have to work on and just always make sure that I pay attention to," he said. "Just pay attention to details and stuff like that. Just a lot of different little mistakes that you try to correct when it's time to play."
Eventually, Robinson could work his way into a starting role, especially if the Vikings are inclined to limited Antoine Winfield's snaps to those of a nickel cornerback, as has been discussed on occasion. For now, however, Robinson's debut Friday night will likely come with the second-team defense.
"We'll try to get him a number of snaps so we can evaluate him and so he'll be able to evaluate himself and find out what the pro game is all about. It'll be a big test for him," Frazier said. "He's anxious to get out there and perform and show everyone that he's capable of playing at this level. And he wants to win a starting spot so we want to see him go out there and work and get some snaps against some good receivers and be able to gauge where he is at the end of this ballgame."
Robinson said he doesn't have any tangible expectations for his NFL preseason debut, other than to help the defense play well. But if he performs as well as he has recently in training camp, the youngest Viking could become a starting Viking in the coming months.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Speedy Robinson impressing at camp
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