Vikings-Saints Personnel Preview

Koren Robinson is ready to make his 2005 NFL debut after a long road to recovery from an alcohol problem that affected his personal and professional life. Get his story and notes on the Vikings and Saints before Sunday's matchup.

The Vikings will be without top receiver Nate Burleson for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, but that should create an opportunity for Koren Robinson to not only make his Vikings debut but also be involved in the offense.

Burleson, who suffered a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in last Sunday's loss to Cincinnati, didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday and seems destined to miss at least one game if not more.

Robinson, released by the Seattle Seahawks in the off-season after repeated off-the-field issues, has been given a second chance by the Vikings. They signed him this month, hoping he can recapture the magic of 2002. Robinson caught 78 passes for 1,240 yards and five touchdowns that season.

The ninth overall selection by the Seahawks in the 2001 draft, Robinson said he's ready to go. "I feel like my legs are back underneath me," he said. "I don't feel like I'm going to go out and pull anything or get hurt or anything like that. But I feel like playing, that's going to help me build up my endurance also."

Robinson also could see time on kickoff and perhaps punt returns.

"He's been working on catching balls (for returns) since day one and we felt that before Nate got injured that the best chance to find a reason to suit him up would be to return kicks," coach Mike Tice said.

"Now that Nate is injured that doesn't need to be the fact. He is obviously going to suit up this week. How much of a role he has, we'll see as the week progresses. We have a few things in and we'll see how he handles them."

Robinson's most important task has been studying the playbook and learning the offense in meetings.

"The concept is pretty much the same, just different terminology," he said. "You get the terminology down then you pretty much have the playbook down. So it's not really going to be too much of a big difference. Just the terminology.

"When you get in the heat of the moment or heat of the battle, are you going to remember that check or are you going to remember that check or know what to do? But I feel like I'm comfortable with the offense and knowing the checks and everything to where if I get in I feel like I can help out."


  • RB Michael Bennett's name surfaced in trade rumors as the Vikings held cursory talks this week with the Arizona Cardinals, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I can't control nothing," Bennett said of the rumors. "It's a distraction, but I won't let it bother me."

  • QB Daunte Culpepper, who has been playing this season with an unspecified injury that has caused some swelling in his right knee, is near 100 percent. "It feels the best it has felt in about two or three weeks," he said.

  • WR Nate Burleson is certain to miss Sunday's game because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament he suffered in his right knee in Week 2 at Cincinnati.

  • DE Kenechi Udeze, who has a right calf strain, took part in all of Thursday's practice and is ready to go.

  • DE Lance Johnstone was added to the injury report as probable after suffering a mild pull of his right hamstring Thursday in practice. The injury forced him to miss part of the session.

  • MLB Sam Cowart, who sat out in Week 2 because of a strained left calf, practiced Thursday and appears ready to go for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

  • WLB E.J. Henderson did some running on his sprained right ankle during the walk-through Thursday but did not take part in practice and is out for Sunday's game. The Vikings training staff has developed a brace that Henderson might be able to try today. Henderson will be replaced by Donatarrious Thomas. Thomas entered training camp as the starter on the weakside.

  • FS Darren Sharper took part in every period of Thursday's practice except the last one and sat out Friday. He will be a game-time decision. He has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

  • C Melvin Fowler has gotten some work with the first team this week but Cory Withrow remains the starter. "I'm not where I want to be, but I'm working hard every day and hopefully I'll get to where I want to be," said Fowler, acquired from Cleveland just before the regular-season opener. "I know the offense for the most part, but there are certain things that I need to work on."

  • WR Troy Williamson averaged an unimpressive 13.2 yards on five kickoff returns against Cincinnati but likely will be given another chance to do some return work against the Saints. "I'd love to see Troy get it going with all that speed," Tice said.


    The Saints' offense ranks seventh in total yards after two games with 356.5 yards per game, but stats don't always show the entire picture.

    That's where the Saints' running game comes in. While they are in the league's top 10 in total yards, their off-season plan of running the ball more effectively has not panned out so far.

    They rank 21st in rushing with 86.5 yards per game, which can be directly attributed to playing the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants the first two weeks. So trying to get the running game up to speed against the Minnesota Vikings, who have allowed 156.5 yards on the ground the first two weeks, will a key to their success Sunday.


  • WR/KR Michael Lewis tore the medial collateral (MCL) and posterior collateral (PCL) ligaments in his left knee during Monday night's game with the New York Giants and was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

    Saints coach Jim Haslett said Lewis, a five-year veteran, will have surgery next week when the swelling in the knee goes down.

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