Matt Kalil is dominating on a weekly basis at LT, Harrison Smith is reminding Vikings fans what a playmaking safety looks like and Blair Walsh continues to validate the team’s decision to select him in the draft. But there’s another rookie who has been just as impressive to Vikings coaches and scouts – CB Josh Robinson.
The Vikings selection of Robinson last April was notable because the Central Florida product was the fastest timed player at the Combine (clocked a 4.29 in the 40-yard dash). But from the moment the Vikings selected Robinson, Vikings GM Rick Spielman explained he was as enamored with other parts of Robinson’s skill set as he was with his straight line speed.
“Extremely talented athlete,” Spielman conceded to vikings.com last April. “But when you look at his tape, he has some unique cover skills. He’s more than willing enough to come up in (run) support, too.”
Robinson is proving Spielman prophetic. The 5-10, 199-pound CB has 28 tackles on the season, including 15 in the last two games. Robinson also has 5 pass break-ups (PBUs) already – only 4 Vikings had that many PBUs all of last season. The Vikings pass defense is much improved from a season ago – they’ve improved 13 spots in passing yards allowed and 20 spots in passer rating alloweed – and Robinson is a big reason for the improvement.
The record from last week’s win over Tennessee will show Robinson as a starting CB along with Chris Cook. This does not mean a demotion for Antoine Winfield, but it is another indication of the confidence the Vikings have in their rookie CB.
“I don’t know if that will eventually be the case in 2012,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said of Robinson potentially being a full-time starter at CB. “We know at some point, we’re hoping that Josh develops to the point where he can be our starting corner. That’s why we drafted him when we did. We want him to eventually be a starting corner for us.”
All the talk of Robison seeing more time on the field aside, make no mistake that Winfield is having another solid season. He ranks 2nd on the team in tackles with 41 and is tied for second in tackles for loss (TFLs) with 4.0. Winfield also has one of the team’s two INTs – Robinson has the other. Frazier explained that the Vikings know what they have in the veteran Winfield. The additional playing time for Robinson is about reducing the wear and tear on Winfield while also continuing the steady development of Robinson.
“We know what we’re going to get from Antoine,” Frazier explained. “He’s been playing great ball for us in these first five weeks of the season and we’re going to need him throughout the year. Part of what we’re doing is just trying to take some snaps off of Antoine, along with developing Josh and we’re hoping that Josh continues to come along. He’s been playing well for us.”
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Josh Robinson, Leslie Frazier, Rick Spielman
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