Slotted in a new role, Vikings' Robinson learns on the fly

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 30, 2013 - 1:07 AM

The second-year cornerback is trying to fill Antoine Winfield’s shoes.


The last five players to leave the Winter Park practice field during Wednesday’s organized team activities were four eager rookies and a second-year player who’s trying to make people forget just how well Antoine Winfield played slot cornerback in the Vikings’ nickel defense the past nine seasons.

“Those are some big shoes to fill,” cornerback Josh Robinson said after putting in a little more post-practice overtime. “That’s for darn sure.”

Robinson has a long way to go. How long? Well, this long:

Reporter: “What was your comfort level in the slot last year?”

Robinson: “Not very high since I didn’t really learn nickel last year. This is all new to me.”

Or this long:

Reporter: “Is it harder to play in the slot than on the outside?”

Robinson: “I wouldn’t know. I really don’t have any game-time experience with it. I think it’s something I’ll learn eventually. We’ll see.”

Or, finally, this long:

Reporter: “Did you at least play some slot corner at Central Florida?”

Robinson: “Never.”

OK, then.

When the Vikings decided not to pay Winfield $7.5 million this season, they gambled that he might re-sign at a reduced salary. They lost. The 15-year veteran signed with Seattle, and Robinson became the Vikings’ hurried-up Plan B for slot cornerback, a year earlier than anyone had expected.

Robinson was a third-round draft pick in 2012. He also has 22-year-old legs that make him one of the fastest players in the league. But when it comes to experience and savvy, well, let’s just say Robinson was in second grade when Winfield joined the NFL in 1999.

“You know, I didn’t really study Antoine in the slot last year,” Robinson said. “But now that I’m in the nickel, I’m watching a lot of tape of him. He’s a great player who made a lot of great plays.”

Today’s pass-crazed NFL offenses — particularly those in the NFC North — force the Vikings to use their nickel package about 50 percent of the time. And playing the slot cornerback position “requires a different mind-set” than playing on the outside, said Vikings coach and former Bears cornerback Leslie Frazier.

“In the slot, you don’t have that sideline to kind of help you,” Frazier said. “And you’re actually asked to do a little bit more from a mental standpoint, as well. When you play the slot position, we might have you involved in our run defense. … The responsibility changes. It requires a little bit more awareness. You have to be a better tackler and you have to have the cover skills.”

  • related content

  • Hartman: MSU Mankato star tries making jump to Vikings

    Thursday May 30, 2013

    The Vikings have kept an eye on receiver Adam Thielen for a few years before recently signing him.

  • Three-and-Out: A look at Vikings OTAs

    Thursday May 30, 2013

    A glimpse at the Vikings in OTAs shows a few reasons for interest and intrigue

  • Peterson: Core muscle rehab 'cakewalk' compared to ACL

    Wednesday May 29, 2013

    The Vikings' enthusiastic star was in attendance and at full speed during Wednesday's OTAs. Following practice, he addressed his health, the team's goals and his busy offseason

  • Minnesota Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson (21) intercepted a pass int...

  • Second-year pro Josh Robinson is being asked to fill a bigger role this season.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Los Angeles - LP: P. Maholm 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 12
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 9 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Manship 6
Texas - LP: N. Tepesch 1 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: J. Francis 2
Boston - LP: J. Peavy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 7
Miami - WP: J. Turner 6 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 5
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 6
Cincinnati - LP: S. LeCure 3 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: F. Rodriguez 4
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 8 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: Y. Pino 2
Kansas City - WP: B. Chen 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 2
Washington - WP: C. Stammen 7 FINAL
Colorado - LP: B. Brown 4
Detroit - LP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Arizona - WP: E. De La Rosa 5
Houston - WP: D. Downs 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: F. Abad 2
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 4 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: M. Morin 2
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 1
Calgary 7/24/14 8:00 PM
Winnipeg 7/25/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Tulsa 93 FINAL
San Antonio 95
Atlanta 108 FINAL
Minnesota 112
Indiana 57 FINAL
Chicago 60
Phoenix 89 FINAL
Seattle 71
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon




question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question