Looking for a young up-and-coming player to keep an eye on during Friday’s preseason home game against Buffalo? Cornerback Josh Robinson is worth watching.
Robinson is likely to see his first NFL game action against the Bills, eager to showcase the speed, confidence and body control that convinced the Vikings to draft him in the third round in April.
The 21-year-old Robinson pulled a hamstring in the first full practice of training camp July 27 and missed more than a week of practice. And while he returned to drills last week, he was held out of the first preseason game in San Francisco as a precaution. Now, Robinson will be thrown into the mix, likely to see significant time against Buffalo with the second- and third-unit defenses.
Robinson’s upside has head coach Leslie Frazier excited.
“The burst he has separates him from all the other players that we have in the secondary,” Frazier said. “He can close and go from point A to point B as fast as anybody we have or that I’ve seen … A lot of guys can run fast straight ahead but it doesn’t show up when you put pads on. But in his case, it shows up.”
On Monday morning, Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer lauded the poise of kicker Blair Walsh after the rookie handled the gusty winds at Candlestick Park with relative ease. Walsh nailed field goals of 39 and 26 yards in Friday night’s 17-6 preseason loss to San Francisco and also was impressive on his three kickoffs, despite the swirling wind.
On Tuesday, punter Chris Kluwe marveled at the Candlestick conditions that were present for the preseason opener.
“That was the worst wind I’ve ever played in at Candlestick,” Kluwe said. “It was almost as bad as Chicago [in 2009].”
Kluwe had six punts Friday, averaging 40.3 yards per boot.
“I was happy to finish the way I did,” Kluwe said. “That’s one of those games where you just try and survive it and not hit like a 10-yard punt. I had one [a 30-yarder in the third quarter] that really got caught up in the wind. But at that point, what do you do? I can’t control the weather.”
Here’s the good news for Kluwe and Walsh. Mother Nature’s elements won’t be an issue for a while. The Vikings have only one game outdoors between now and November – a Week 6 game at Washington. During the regular season, 13 of the team’s 16 games will be played indoors.
Looking for leadership
Frazier also had kind words Tuesday for strongside linebacker Chad Greenway, whose presence and guidance will be key this season as the Vikings try to determine what they can expect consistently from middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley and weakside linebacker Erin Henderson.
“[We need] his leadership probably more than anything,” Frazier said. “We expect him to play well but we need that intangible in the locker room and on the field in the huddle. We need that great leader for some of the young guys on the team.”
Even as Adrian Peterson works back into the mix, odds are good the Vikings will start the year with Toby Gerhart getting a majority of the carries. Frazier was asked directly Tuesday whether he could envision Peterson being a workhorse back when the season opens Sept. 9 against Jacksonville.
“There’s nothing to say that he could,” Frazier said. “But I don’t know if there were many things that were said that at seven-and-a-half months he would be prepared to do what he’s doing now. You don’t really want to put parameters on his rehabilitation, you want to just let it go and see where it takes us."
-- Both Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave asserted that Joe Webb’s struggles against the 49ers were partly attributable to poor offensive line play. Webb (4-for-11, 20 yards, sacked twice) will get ample opportunity Friday to redeem himself. Said Musgrave: “Part of what he dealt with was [there were] so many things so many guys in front of him were not able to do. And that affected some of the things he wanted to do at the quarterback position … He’s probably the least experienced of all of our quarterbacks as far as playing the position over a long period of time. You just have to continue to let him get reps and let him development.”
-- Defensive end Everson Griffen is dealing with a minor knee injury that kept him out of Tuesday’s practice and could put his availability for Friday’s game in jeopardy.