At one point this summer, Josh Robinson was just "the other guy." That is what Vikings coach Mike Zimmer called him once when the third-year cornerback was in and out of training camp because of a hamstring injury.
But apparently, that didn't mean Robinson wasn't in the team's plans all along.
The new coaching staff had an idea of the skills that Robinson, who started 16 games in his first two NFL seasons, brings to the table. But they actually had to see him out there on the field to know for certain that they could count on him.
"We kind of had a picture. We just wanted to make sure it was solidified when we got into some games," defensive coordinator George Edwards said. "That's why he ended up playing those last two preseason games a little bit more."
Edwards stopped short of saying Robinson will be the team's third cornerback against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, lining up on the left sideline in the nickel package so Captain Munnerlyn can move inside to cover slot receivers. But now that Robinson appears to have put his injury behind him, the expectation is that he will be trusted to fill that sizable void, which is essentially a starting position in today's NFL.
"Really the last two weeks you could see him starting to feel a lot better coming off the injury with the hamstring," Edwards said. "You could see the consistency starting to show up in practice, see the competition starting to show up in practice, just the things that we thought coming in."
Bridgewater the backup
Teddy Bridgewater, the quarterback of the future, is getting used to being the backup of the present.
While Matt Cassel is getting comfortable as the starter, taking the vast majority of the first-team reps in practice, the rookie is forced to take reps of the mental variety. Bridgewater estimated that he is getting about 2 percent of the first-team reps in practice, so he has to make the most of the ones he gets in individual drills and when running the scout team.
"We have to get Matt ready to play," Bridgewater said. "So for me, I won't be getting as many reps as I received in the preseason. But for me, it's just taking advantage of those reps that I do get and also giving the defense a good look."
Patterson: Kick it to me
Vikings wide receiver and kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson said he bumped into Rams coach Jeff Fisher at the ESPY awards in June and pleaded with Fisher to kick him the ball Sunday.
"I told him, 'Just make sure he kicks me the ball,'" Patterson said. "He told me, 'Be ready.'"
Fisher, however, on Wednesday didn't sound as if he planned to give Patterson a chance.
"If you want to create problems for yourself, give him a returnable ball," Fisher said.
Turner, Fisher go way back
Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner was an assistant coach at Southern California when Fisher played there. Fisher was first a wide receiver when Turner coached that position. Then Fisher was moved to defensive back, the position he ultimately played in the NFL. And Turner, now known as an offensive guru, coached the defensive backs for one year, in 1980.
"That was a short detour of his coaching career," said Fisher, part of a 1980 Trojans secondary that included future Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, along with six-time Pro Bowl picks Joey Browner and Dennis Smith. "He didn't do much coaching that year."
Turner could tell even then that Fisher had a future in coaching.
"Jeff was obviously a very talented player and a very smart player, and you knew that if he wanted to be a coach he'd been an awfully good one," Turner said.
Defensive end Everson Griffen missed practice because of an illness, but Zimmer expects him to practice Friday or at the very least be ready to start Sunday.
Fullback Zach Line (ankle) and linebackers Brandon Watts (knee) and Michael Mauti (foot) were non-participants for a second consecutive day. Offensive tackle Mike Harris (shoulder) was limited. Cornerback Jabari Price (shoulder) and receiver Rodney Smith (neck) were full participants.
Zimmer said Watts and Mauti are not expected to suit up at St. Louis.