The smile on Brian Robison's face has been hard to contain at training camp. He's ready to get the 2013 season started and has one thing going in his favor – he can lift both his arms without pain.
He may not be a big fan of the slow grind of training camp, but having his health has him with a positive outlook.
"Every training camp is like starting over," Robison said. "Each season stands on its own merit. I'm just happy that I'm healthy and feeling 100 percent. It's been a long time since I could say that."
It wasn't always that way. Robison injured the AC joint in his shoulder at midseason and played through excruciating pain for much of the year. He was forced to take time away from his typical offseason workout routine, but hitting it hard over the last few months has him feeling like a kid again.
"It took a little while, but once it started coming back, it recovered faster than I thought it might," Robison said. "It took probably two months before I didn't feel any pain, but once the pain went away and I was able to start lifting, it came back pretty fast. It's strong and I truly feel right now I'm in the best shape I've ever been in."
The injury wasn't a tear, which would have likely required surgery, but a painful inflammation that he compared to having nails driven into his shoulder when hit on the spot of the injury. It robbed him of some of his strength and essentially had him playing with one arm late in the season.
"There was never really a need for surgery, because it was the type of injury that can only heal with rest," Robison said. "That wasn't an option during the season and, at the exit physical, the MRI showed it didn't need surgery, but needed rest. You play through those types of things if you can."
He may be a beneficiary of the Vikings' defensive plan to have a defensive line rotation that shuttles players in an out to optimize the skill sets of the linemen while reducing the wear and tear on individual bodies. Although Robison understands the rationale behind the policy, it doesn't make any easier for him to come off the field.
"The competitor in me has never been a fan of the rotation process," Robison said. "But I understand why we do it. When games get a little long-winded, it's great to have guys that are fresh in the fourth quarter. Whatever it takes to win games is what we have to do, but I'm a competitor and always want to be out there on the field."
With his shoulder healthy, Robison isn't letting anything stop him from what he expects to be his best season in the NFL. Despite establishing himself as a defensive leader and playmaker, he is taking everything seriously – from practice to walk-throughs to film study – because he wants everyone to know that he's back and ready to cause havoc with opposing quarterbacks.
"In my mind, I'm going out there to be the best player I can possibly be every day," Robison said. "Any time you start feeling there's not competition for your position, that's when you're on your way back down. Even with there being more knowns that unknowns heading into this season compared to last year, you can't become complacent. The bottom line is we showed that we could compete last year. Now it's a matter of taking it to the next level. I'm going to do my part to make that happen."
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.
With shoulder recovered, Robison relieved
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