One of the fastest Vikings wasn't overwhelmed by the speed of the game in his rookie season of 2012. Instead, cornerback Josh Robinson learned he has a lot of learning to do in the NFL.
As Robinson works his way into his second professional season, and the first with a full offseason conditioning program, he said consistency is the key to him finding a regularly contributing role in 2013.
"That's one thing coach was stressing with me this offseason – be consistent," Robinson said. "I would have flashes of good plays and flashes of bad plays. But I need to be more consistent."
Last year at this time, Vikings coaches were talking about their desire to limit veteran Antoine Winfield to a nickel cornerback role, meaning he would play in about 60 percent of the snaps to save on the wear and tear on his body.
As it turned out, Winfield played in 91 percent of the snaps while the other three among the top four contributing cornerbacks – Chris Cook, A.J. Jefferson and Robinson – all played between 50 and 56 percent of the defensive snaps.
Robinson was on the high end of that spectrum, but bigger things could be expected of him in his second season. First-round draft pick Xavier Rhodes is expected to take over for Winfield, who is now with the Seattle Seahawks, as the starting left cornerback, but Robinson should provide competition there if he can improve on one thing to increase his consistency.
"My study habits. I could have did better last year. As a rookie, I was trying to get a feel for everything and I think I got that so I'm ready to study more and do more that I can to help this team," Robinson said.
"(I wasn't) overwhelmed. Really just trying to take in as much as possible, but trying to make sure I can still play fast and it kind had me thinking too much. I kind of got a lot of things under my belt, a lot of experience as a rookie. Hopefully I can add to it and do better this year."
Robinson had a respectable rookie season, finishing seventh on the team with 61 tackles, third on the team with two interceptions, and added nine passes defensed.
Without Winfield, the Vikings are missing a seasoned leader by example, but Robinson was able to see part of what made Winfield such a successful, consistent cornerback for the Vikings.
"His study habits are superb. He's one that's always been – ever since his rookie year, he said, he learned that he had to study better and he became a great player," Robinson said. "He's a great tackler – everyone knows that. His coverage skills are still there, even at 35."
Robinson said he learned he just needs to put in the time for studying and have a plan, something he lacked last year. This year, knowing what a weekly NFL schedule entails, he figures he can better plan his weekly film studies.
That, he said, keeps the goal the same – trying to win a starting job.
With Cook and Rhodes, the Vikings have two big-bodied cornerbacks. With Robinson, they have a quicker, younger version of Winfield who lacks the experience, guile and tackling prowess.
Robinson believes he will be worked inside as a nickel cornerback and outside and given a chance to win either of those spots. Either way, he knows he has to improve to have that chance, and it starts with understanding how to study better.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
CB Robinson focused on study habits
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