Rookie cornerback Trae Waynes, the 11th pick in the 2015 NFL draft, had his first interception and defended two passes Sunday in the Vikings’ 10-9 playoff loss to Seattle for one of his best showings of the season.
Waynes played 19 defensive snaps after vetran cornerback Terence Newman left the game because of an ankle injury. During the regular season, Waynes played only 214 defensive snaps, just less than 20 percent.
Waynes returned his interception 24 yards to help set up a field goal.
This sort of impact is what many expected from the former Michigan State standout each week, but with the 37-year-old Newman still playing well, the Vikings took their time with Waynes, who didn’t see his first defense snap until Week 3.
“If you paid attention to the media stuff, it was annoying ’cause people have expectations on the outside that don’t really know what’s going on in the inside,” Waynes said while cleaning out his locker Monday morning at Winter Park. “There were a lot of negative things.
“I had the luxury of having guys on the team like Terence, Captain [Munnerlyn], Xavier [Rhodes] and the rest of the guys, and they helped me progress week-by-week and get better. “On social media [after Sunday’s game] some guy was like, ‘I retract all the negative things I said about you. You’re a heck of a player.’ … It’s funny stuff like that. But I don’t pay attention to that stuff ’cause at the end of the day outsiders’ opinions really don’t matter. It’s about who is in this locker room and the coaching staff and who is a part of this team.
“I’ve always been underrated, anyway. So that’s something I guess you could say I use as motivation.”
With Newman becoming a free agent, there is a chance Waynes could slide into a starting role next season.
“I think I’ve earned the coaches’ trust and if they need me to step in [next season], I think I could do it,” he said.
Robison wants to return
Veteran defensive end Brian Robison hopes he will be back with the Vikings next season, though his hefty contract might lead the team to make a change.
Robison, 32, has two years left on his contract with a $5.1 million salary cap hit for 2016. If the Vikings move on from Robison, rookie Danielle Hunter would be next up. Hunter had 3.5 sacks in the final four weeks of the regular season.
“I’m going to do everything on my end to hopefully be back next year. But we all know the NFL is a business, and we’ve seen a lot of great players and a lot of good players get released and moved from teams,” Robison said. “But that’s out of my control, man. All I can do is move forward and control what I can control and understand that God has a plan for me.”
Robison, who played at both defensive end and tackle in pass-rushing situations, had five sacks and 36 tackles.
The Vikings signed seven players from their practice squad to reserve/future contracts for the 2016 season.
Former Gophers wide receiver Isaac Fruechte is among those signed, along with guard Isame Faciane, defensive tackle Toby Johnson, safety John Lowdermilk, linebacker Terrance Plummer, fullback Blake Renaud and linebacker Alex Singleton.