K-Rob Rounding Into Form

When Koren Robinson joined the Vikings just before the start of the season, he wasn't in game shape and the playbook was foreign to him. He says both of those factors are behind him now, and he's even starting to look like a natural returning kicks.

Many players loathe training camp. Koren Robinson longs for it.

That's right. Here we are in the middle of the NFL season with Week 10 upon us, and Robinson finally feels like he is getting in the groove.

Robinson, who was released by Seattle over the winter, didn't sign with the Vikings until days before the regular season opener. So when he joined his Vikings teammates at Winter Park during the first week of September, naturally he was over a month behind.

"Physically, you want to be ready to go," Robinson said. "You don't want to get your legs up under you in the ninth or 10th game of the season. But at the same time you have to know the playbook. You can be in the best shape in your life and if you don't know where to go or what to do, you ain't going to play."

Even though he didn't belong to a team in August, he tried to stay in game shape, Robinson said. But still, after joining the Vikings, he had plenty of catching up to do. Just this week Robinson declared himself caught up.

"I feel 100 percent," Robinson said. "As far as my situation coming in missing training camp, missing minicamp, not knowing the playbook, that sets you back a lot. You can't step right in right away. You're not in game shape. You don't know the offense. You don't have chemistry with the quarterback. That can set you back a lot.

"But it's my fifth year in the league. I've picked up the offense fairly quickly. I'm in shape now. My legs are under me. I have chemistry with the quarterback. I'm ready to go."

Robinson has been limited on the offense. On the depth chart, he is practically behind every receiver — Nate Burleson, Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson, Troy Williamson. The statistics support the pecking order. After missing the first two games of the season, Koren Robinson has just four catches for 18 yards.

His limited role is to be expected, receivers coach Wes Chandler says, considering he joined the team six weeks late.

"For a guy who had not played, he was not in football shape. He was in decent shape. To play the game at a high level and a level that he's used to competing at, he was not ready for that," Chandler said. "It has taken him some time to get him acclimated to the game again and taking hits and bumps and bruises and getting used to the natural things that come to you determining decision making and cuts and moves."

Robinson has been an asset on kickoff returns. He is averaging 24.2 yards on kickoff returns, but he has shown breakaway ability. Already he has returns of 72, 49 and 46 yards. He is ranked 15th in the NFL among kickoff returners, but that will only get better, he said.

"I'm right there. I have confidence on kickoff returns in the team and the people in front of me," Robinson said. "They're blocking and they're giving me holes. I'm just picking and choosing my holes. We have the confidence that they're going to get their men and I'm going to do what I can do with the ball."

A few times in recent weeks Robinson has been just one broken tackle away from going the distance.

"I think it's going to happen. It might happen more than once. That's how confident we are in the kickoff returns," Robinson said. "I feel like it's going to happen. It might happen this week, it might happen next week. But I feel like it's going to happen before the year's over."

Chandler has noticed the burst of speed the last couple of games.

"When he first starting returning kicks, you did not see that burst," Chandler said. "You saw that he has the mobility, but he needed to get in game shape per se so he could go ahead and hit it with a burst and the speed we know he has."


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