Robinson has reviewed his rookie weaknesses

Cornerback Josh Robinson spent time this offseason finding out a particular play that gave him trouble as a rookie and working to correct it. Robinson, Leslie Frazier and Alan Williams talked about Robinson's possibilities on defense.

For a third-round draft choice, Josh Robinson got plenty of opportunities to prove himself as a rookie in 2012.

This year, he is finding out what he didn't know as a rookie and Greg Jennings is helping him discover that. He sees Jennings surveying the defense and making adjustments because of his reads, something Robinson said he never would have noticed as a rookie because he didn't always know where the weaknesses in the defense were.

That's the value of a year of experience.

Robinson's review of his rookie season also revealed to him his own weakness.

"I gave up a fade deep ball for a touchdown two or three times. Those are ones you can't give up. You can't give up points, so that's something every time I get an opportunity to work on I'm doing my best," Robinson said.

"You know that teams are going to find every corner's weakness and try to attack him in that area. If there is something on film, of course they're going to attack it and I'm just going to try to make sure if they're going to attack it I'm ready."

Robinson is in a competition for the starting left cornerback spot vacated when the Vikings released Antoine Winfield, easily the most used and most reliable cornerback the Vikings had last year. If they both stay healthy, the competition for that spot should come down to Robinson and rookie Xavier Rhodes.

For now, Robinson is getting the majority of the snaps with the first-team defense and sliding inside to cover the slot receiver when the defense transitions to five defensive backs on the field.

But there is still a proving ground Robinson must pass before the Vikings give him Winfield's old spot.

"We'll want to see how instinctive he is. The way we play the slot corner, we'll mix in some zone and man and we need a guy who has good instincts, good awareness of things around him, because we ask him to get involved in run fits as well as pass coverage and that can be a challenge for some guys especially if you're a corner, you're primarily locking in on your guy," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "But at that position you have to have awareness of what's happening with the linebacker that's inside of you, the corner that's outside of you and the safety that's behind you, and you have to be able to find your spot and be effective in that area. The instincts and the awareness, does he have those things to be effective in that position?"

That's what the Vikings will find out during training camp and the preseason.

Robinson played in 56 percent of the snaps last year. That's more than starter Chris Cook, who once again was dealing with injuries, and more than starting nose tackle Letroy Guion or rotational defensive end Everson Griffen.

The numbers speak to the importance of having a viable third cornerback who is ready to play often when the opposing offense has three receivers on the field.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams, who, like Frazier, used to coach defensive backs, says the position requires intelligence as well as talent.

"He just needs the reps. He needs to see the different plays that he's going to get in practice. I don't think people realize how tough that position is," Williams said. "That's a position that you have to fit like a safety or a linebacker in the box and you have to cover like a corner when you're on a wide receiver. That's a position unlike other ones when you can just maybe get by by being talented. You have to have good instincts. You have to be talented and you have to see the reps, so experience is a plus there. So he just needs to see the reps. The ones we have seen, we're very, very encouraged at him playing in that spot."

Most of Robinson's work last year came on the outside. This year, he is likely to be the team's top nickel defensive back whether or not he wins the starting spot at left corner. Frazier said the third cornerback today is essentially a starter because they are playing far more than they did even five or six years ago.

Robinson admits he has watched more film this offseason and he's more comfortable with his assignments.

"You don't see as much when you're a freshman. You're just reacting off of the player in front of you. When you get some experience, you start reacting and seeing things similar. You see it and your reaction will be much quicker."

  • Fullback Jerome Felton was the only player not at the Tuesday morning walk-through as he continues to tend to a personal matter that caused him to leave practice Monday afternoon. Frazier said it is not injury-related.

  • In addition to his possibilities as a starting cornerback, Robinson has been getting turns as a kickoff returner, but special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Cordarrelle Patterson is in the lead for that job.

    "I'm just ready when my number is called," Robinson said of returning kicks. "It's exciting. You get that real rush when you're back there."

  • Other players working as the nickel cornerback: Jacob Lacey, Marcus Sherels and A.J. Jefferson.

  • Alan Williams said Lacey's surgically repaired thumb is fully healed.

  • Alan Williams said he doesn't anticipate having veteran Kevin Williams and rookie Sharrif Floyd on the field together because they are both best suited playing the three technique and not the nose tackle position.

    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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