It was a surprising and curious move involving a struggling and controversial player. But by all accounts in the Vikings' receivers room, the signing of Koren Robinson was a welcome addition.
The Vikings signed Robinson, the former Seattle receiver, earlier this week. The move was curious on two fronts. First, the Vikings appear deep at receiver with Nate Burleson, Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson, Troy Williamson, Keenan Howry, and — prior to Koren Robinson's arrival — Kelly Campbell. Second, the Randy Moss-less Vikings had spent the past six months preaching chemistry. Why then, would a team take a chance on a player with the baggage Koren Robinson would bring to Winter Park?
Vikings head coach Mike Tice explained Wednesday that Koren Robinson deserved a second chance. A handful of Vikings receivers followed Tice's lead and welcomed a new talent to their already full fraternity.
"Any time you add another threat, it gives us another addition to the team, and you can't leave a guy that would help the team out there in the open," said Burleson, who in his third season with the Vikings is the team's No. 1 receiver. "He was available on the market and the coaches did a great job of bringing him in."
In four seasons in Seattle, Robinson had 213 receptions for 3,167 yards, breaking the 1,000-yard barrier once (in 2002, he had 1,240 yards). He has averaged three touchdowns per season.
Prior to the move, the Vikings consulted with quarterback Daunte Culpepper. The receivers weren't involved in the decision-making process, nor should they be, Burleson said.
"We don't really think about it until we see him here working out," Burleson said. "Once he's here, we realize we've got another athlete and it's always good when you have another person who can make plays. The more people you have on your offense who can make plays, the better because it makes it tougher for defenses to game-plan against you."
The move doesn't directly affect Burleson, since Koren Robinson is never expected to be the team's top receiver. But for players like Howry and Williamson, the addition might carve into their playing time, and ultimately the number of balls thrown their direction.
Yet neither one seemed fazed with the addition.
"Everybody's taking it as a positive," Williamson said. "It gives us more power as a wide receiver corps. For me, it gives me somebody else to look at to pattern my game (after) and learn a lot of stuff from.
"We're pretty deep, but you can never tell if you're too deep."
Howry seemed to agree. Howry is the team's first punt returner, and second kickoff returner behind Mewelde Moore. While Koren Robinson has never returned kicks during his NFL career, it has been suggested he might eventually be a kickoff returner.
Still, Howry said, signing a player of Robinson's ilk is a good move.
"It adds a lot of depth. He's a top-10 pick from five years ago and he has a lot of potential and a lot of athletic ability, which will only make our squad better," Howry said. "We're always trying to improve our team and improve our group as a whole, so signing a guy like him will only add to the table.
"We're thin at some other positions, but when you have a chance to sign a guy like Koren Robinson, you don't pass up that opportunity."
Howry was impressed after his first meeting with the new Viking.
"We talked to him to see how he was doing and tried to make him feel like part of the receivers group," Howry said. "He's really chilled, really laid back, really cool."
Robinson was suspended for four games last season for violating the league's substance abuse policy and has a Sept. 14 court date for a drunk driving arrest over the summer. He was also suspended by the Seahawks for two games last year for missing team meetings.
Certainly, chemistry wouldn't be affected after a day or two. But the Vikings don't appear concerned with the threat that Koren Robinson could possibly ripple calm waters.
"I don't think so," Culpepper said. "Koren Robinson is a guy who has such great ability. ... His off-the-field things — everybody goes through something to get to where they want. We just need to welcome him and embrace him and hope that he understands the importance of him being successful and doing the right thing."
Receivers Welcome Koren Robinson
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