CB Robinson seizing opportunities

Third-round pick Josh Robinson hasn't had much time to show his skills in a game, but his initial performance showed a lot of promise. He'll get an even better opportunity Friday. Robinson, Leslie Frazier and Alan Williams all talked about what they've seen.

Rookie cornerback Josh Robinson has learned so much in the last two weeks since returning from a hamstring injury that he can only imagine what he might have accomplished in college with his newfound technical and schematic knowledge.

"I was actually just making a joke the other day that I wish I could go back to college and play, just knowing the things that I know now," Robinson said. "I think I'm doing much better and developing as a cornerback."

Robinson is the youngest player on the Vikings after declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft after his junior season at Central Florida at the ripe old age of 21. Of course, he was no slouch in college even without the techniques he has learned since being drafted by the Vikings in April.

He earned All-Conference USA honors as a sophomore and junior, and second-team honors as a true freshman after setting the school's freshman record with six interceptions. By the time his career was finished, he was second in UCF history for career interceptions (10) and the 15 passes defensed that he had as a junior was also second in school history for a single season.

He started 35 of 38 games played in college and could be in line for his first start – albeit preseason – Friday night against Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Cornerback Chris Cook won't play after suffering concussion-like symptoms, leaving Robinson and Chris Carr vying for his position.

"We'll see who we decided to start, but it will definitely mean Josh will get more reps with Chris being out," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday.

Robinson didn't play in the first preseason game because of a hamstring injury suffered in his first training camp practice, but he played last Friday against the Buffalo Bills and performed well.

Facing third-and-15, Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to burn Robinson deep, but the rookie's 4.33-second speed in the 40-yard dash translated to the playing surface as he made up a step on receiver Derek Hagan and knocked the ball away.

Even before that play, Frazier, a starting cornerback with the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears in the early and middle 1980s, was impressed with Robinson's athleticism.

"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," Frazier said last week. "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. Of course, we all know he had the fastest time at the Combine, but it shows up on the football field. A lot of guys can run fast straight ahead but it doesn't show up when you put pads on, 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 in to play to be a big-time corner in our league."

Robinson said there were mistakes made out on the field Friday night, but "we'll make those corrections this week." He will certainly have several opportunities to show what he can do. The starters will play into the third quarter, and whether Robinson starts or not he should be on the field for at least 50 percent of the defensive snaps as either a starter or nickel cornerback.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams, who coached defensive backs with the Indianapolis Colts before taking the job with the Vikings in January, said he believes Robinson can be an effective starter in the NFL.

"He has a ton of talent, he can run, he's a physical ballplayer also. He showed that in last week's ballgame, so we look forward to getting him some more reps this week and seeing how fast we can bring him along," Williams said. "We want to make sure that we get him good reps against good competition to see what he does and how he fares."

Robinson also showed he can perform under varying circumstances and with some pressure exerted.

With the Bills trying to get in scoring position at the end of the first half, Robinson knocked running back Tashard Choice out of bounds after only a 2-yard gain on third-and-5. On the next play, he batted away a short pass to Hagan on fourth down, ending the Buffalo drive with less than a minute play in the second quarter and helping set up a Blair Walsh field goal before halftime.

Despite Robinson going only 5-foot-10 and 199 pounds, Williams said he has no reservations the third-round pick is physical enough.

"No, not at all. The NFL game is a little bit different from the college game and you want to see if they show the same things that they did in college and he did," Williams said.

Robinson finished his first preseason action with two tackles and tied for the team high with two passes defensed.

With the speed aspect obvious since his combine-best run in February and the physical part seemingly not a question, Robinson might only need to show consistency in order to earn a significant role in the regular season.


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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\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Rookie cornerback Josh Robinson has learned so much in the last two weeks since returning from a hamstring injury that he can only imagine what he might have accomplished in college with his newfound technical and schematic knowledge. \"I was actually just making a joke the other day that I wish I could go back to college and play, just knowing the things that I know now,\" Robinson said. \"I think I'm doing much better and developing as a cornerback.\" Robinson is the youngest player on the Vikings after declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft after his junior season at Central Florida at the ripe old age of 21. Of course, he was no slouch in college even without the techniques he has learned since being drafted by the Vikings in April. He earned All-Conference USA honors as a sophomore and junior, and second-team honors as a true freshman after setting the school's freshman record with six interceptions. By the time his career was finished, he was second in UCF history for career interceptions (10) and the 15 passes defensed that he had as a junior was also second in school history for a single season. He started 35 of 38 games played in college and could be in line for his first start – albeit preseason – Friday night against Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Cornerback Chris Cook won't play after suffering concussion-like symptoms, leaving Robinson and Chris Carr vying for his position. \"We'll see who we decided to start, but it will definitely mean Josh will get more reps with Chris being out,\" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday. Robinson didn't play in the first preseason game because of a hamstring injury suffered in his first training camp practice, but he played last Friday against the Buffalo Bills and performed well. Facing third-and-15, Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to burn Robinson deep, but the rookie's 4.33-second speed in the 40-yard dash translated to the playing surface as he made up a step on receiver Derek Hagan and knocked the ball away. Even before that play, Frazier, a starting cornerback with the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears in the early and middle 1980s, was impressed with Robinson's athleticism. \"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,\" Frazier said last week. \"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. Of course, we all know he had the fastest time at the Combine, but it shows up on the football field. A lot of guys can run fast straight ahead but it doesn't show up when you put pads on, 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 in to play to be a big-time corner in our league.\" Robinson said there were mistakes made out on the field Friday night, but \"we'll make those corrections this week.\" He will certainly have several opportunities to show what he can do. The starters will play into the third quarter, and whether Robinson starts or not he should be on the field for at least 50 percent of the defensive snaps as either a starter or nickel cornerback. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams, who coached defensive backs with the Indianapolis Colts before taking the job with the Vikings in January, said he believes Robinson can be an effective starter in the NFL. \"He has a ton of talent, he can run, he's a physical ballplayer also. He showed that in last week's ballgame, so we look forward to getting him some more reps this week and seeing how fast we can bring him along,\" Williams said. \"We want to make sure that we get him good reps against good competition to see what he does and how he fares.\" Robinson also showed he can perform under varying circumstances and with some pressure exerted. With the Bills trying to get in scoring position at the end of the first half, Robinson knocked running back Tashard Choice out of bounds after only a 2-yard gain on third-and-5. On the next play, he batted away a short pass to Hagan on fourth down, ending the Buffalo drive with less than a minute play in the second quarter and helping set up a Blair Walsh field goal before halftime. Despite Robinson going only 5-foot-10 and 199 pounds, Williams said he has no reservations the third-round pick is physical enough. \"No, not at all. The NFL game is a little bit different from the college game and you want to see if they show the same things that they did in college and he did,\" Williams said. Robinson finished his first preseason action with two tackles and tied for the team high with two passes defensed. With the speed aspect obvious since his combine-best run in February and the physical part seemingly not a question, Robinson might only need to show consistency in order to earn a significant role in the regular season. 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