The Minnesota Vikings have a lot of young and talented players on their roster, but one of them that has stood out the most in training camp so far is second-year linebacker Edmond Robinson. Head coach Mike Zimmer sang the praises of him last weekend when he was asked about the linebackers he had on his roster.
“The guy that’s been impressive to me has been Edmond Robinson,” the head coach said. “He’s a big guy that can run; he’s physical, he learns, he’s a good kid. I think he keeps improving all the time. I think he’s got a chance to be a good football player, I think he’ll show up a lot in these preseason games.”
Robinson struggled at times last training camp with learning the playbook and just the overall speed of the game. He came from the small school of Newberry College, which had an enrollment of just 1,155 in 2010.
Zimmer even joked around during Wednesday’s press conference that the school was so small he couldn’t even remember what it was.
“He’s coming out of Newberry; it was Newberry, right? It’s one of those I tease him about, I can’t remember,” Zimmer said with a smile.
But all joking aside, Zimmer sang the praise of the young linebacker for the second press conference in a row. He likes that Robinson has the ability to line up in multiple positions and that he just seems to have a better understanding of the defense now.
He lines up correctly, he has the strength necessary to take on blockers, he’s quick to the ball and Zimmer seems to expect big things from him as he continues to develop.
“He has come an awful long way, and he keeps getting better every day,” Zimmer said. “I think he has a chance to be a really good linebacker someday. It may not be now, but he’s a great worker and a good kid who studies hard.”
It’s always good to have your head coach saying good things about you, but Robinson knows that it’s only going to happen if he plays well on the field. If his production dips, then Zimmer’s attitude toward him will change.
That’s why he’s trying his best to not buy into the praise and the hype. He’s just trying to continue to better himself as a player.
“I just thought that it’s progress,” Robinson said when asked what he thought of Zimmer’s praise. “When you’re out here, coming from where I came, that’s the only thing you can hang your hat on is being a positive guy, but it’s progress. So for him to say something like that, I appreciate him saying that, but I’m just going to continue to come out here and work hard every day.”
All the hard work that Robinson has put in since joining the Vikings, and the fact that he has a year of experience under his belt, has really caused the game to slow down for him. A lot of his time last year was spent trying to keep his head above water as he was learning the playbook and trying to adjust to the speed of the NFL.
Now he is able to focus on the nuances of playing linebacker and the coaches have also expanded his role a little. Last season, he primarily worked as a strong-side linebacker, but now they have him taking reps as a weak-side linebacker as well.
Another big thing that has helped in Robinson’s development was the two starts he received in place of an injured Anthony Barr toward the end of the 2014 season. Not only did those starts show that the coaching staff had confidence in him, but also that he can play at this level of competition.
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“It definitely gave me more confidence than I had last year,” Robinson said of his two starts. “It just showed me that the coaches thought that I was suited well to play in those games. So for them to give me that chance to get in there and play, I was just ready to go.”
At this point in time, Robinson is still Barr’s backup, but with this likely being Chad Greenway’s final season there could be a starting spot opening for him next year to battle with Emmanuel Lamur. He just needs to continue to work hard and improve at the rate he has been, and then show the coaches that he deserves to be in the starting lineup.