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Access Vikings

Breaking news and year-round coverage of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Access Vikings is the Star Tribune's blog covering team news, rumors, games and all things purple.

Taking on new work, Robison could be a difference maker vs.Eagles

Every week following the Access Vikings Gameday Preview podcast we’ll delve deeper into the player Andrew Krammer pegged as a key difference maker for the upcoming game. 

The evolution of Brian Robison is one of the reasons for the Vikings defensive line’s success this season.

Robison, the 33-year-old defensive end in his 10th NFL season, has embraced new assignments in the playbook that have him, at times, running away from the quarterback.

Though on Sunday in Philadelphia, the Vikings have to like his outlook going forward in the upcoming matchup with Eagles rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who will start his second game for the suspended Lane Johnson.

Last week, the guy across from Vaitai, Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan, accounted for 2.5 sacks on five quarterback hits as Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz took five sacks in a loss.

Enter Robison, whose play has yet to drop off with age. And they’re not giving him much of a break. Only Everson Griffen has played more snaps along the defensive line this season as Robison is on pace to play more than 900 snaps for the sixth straight year.

Against the Texans two weeks ago, Robison showed again he’s still a handful when you let him rush the right edge. He twice sacked Brock Osweiler, letting a third just out of his grasp. Robison is also asked to make an impact beyond his sack totals as a movable piece in Mike Zimmer’s blitz schemes.

Whether his hand is in the turf at left end or he’s standing over a guard or center as the defensive tackle, Robison could be dropping back to cover a tight end or running back. At the line, he’s given responsibilities to call stunts or twists depending on their own play call. Sometimes he’s setting the pick to free another teammate.

On this third-and-12 against the Texans, Robison is standing between right guard and right tackle with Danielle Hunter at left end. At the line, Robison lurches forward to create the slightest hesitation from the linemen and drops to cover the tight end.


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Griffen, Hunter and even Tom Johnson have dropped into coverage to boost the unpredictability of this Vikings defense. Though their teeth really come out when they’re let loose to attack the quarterback. Many, especially Griffen, have an impeccable timing for the snap and a wide array of pass-rush moves.

And on Sunday against the Eagles and their rookie right tackle, keep an eye on Robison when he lines up at his traditional spot of left end. All four of his sacks this season, including two strip-sacks, have come from there.


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Vikings' Floyd unlikely to return soon from latest knee injury

Today marks exactly four weeks since Sharrif Floyd underwent his latest knee surgery, one that cleaned up cartilage issues in his right knee.

Though Floyd, who missed four starts last season after a similar operation, does not appear close to returning.

“I don’t think so,” head coach Mike Zimmer said when asked Thursday if Floyd’s return to practice was imminent.

Floyd was limited throughout the offseason due to knee issues and has not practiced since Sept. 9. Two days later, during the opener in Tennessee, Floyd suffered the latest setback that ultimately required surgery on Sept. 22.

It’s a disappointing turn for Floyd, who is in position to play for a long-term contract extension this year. The Vikings picked up his fifth-year option in the spring, so he’s under contract through 2017.

The Vikings defense hasn’t missed a beat despite losing the 2013 first-round pick. They’re tied for the NFL lead with 19 sacks, including 17 from the defensive line, as Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen have filled in for Floyd.

Floyd may not travel to Philadelphia, his hometown, for Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Floyd said Thursday it’d be Zimmer’s decision and that he was happy for his teammates.

Sunday will mark Floyd’s 10th missed game since 2014.

In other injury news, tight end MyCole Pruitt (knee) still has not returned after injuring his knee Oct. 2 against the Texans. Though the Vikings will get some help at the position as Rhett Ellison and rookie David Morgan are on track to return from their own knee injuries.

Guard Brandon Fusco passed the concussion protocol, per Zimmer, and was a full participant in Thursday’s practice.

Still limited for the Vikings this week are receiver Stefon Diggs (groin), receiver Jarius Wright (ankle), tackle Jeremiah Sirles (knee) and receiver Laquon Treadwell (thumb).

12:00 PM, 10/23 (FOX)
Minnesota 5-0
Philadelphia 3-2

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