Thursday seemed like a good time to ask Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards about that depth issue at left defensive end.
After all, the team:
- – Couldn’t lure free agent Michael Johnson from his first choice of returning to Cincinnati. He would have been a strong addition.
- – Used its third round draft pick on an impressive-looking physical specimen named Danielle Hunter. But he’s super raw and his skills are more suited to the right end position at this point.
- – Rarely used 2014 third-round draft pick Scott Crichton as a rookie.
- – Is being extra cautious with Brian Robison, who somehow became 32 years old and a nine-year veteran while we blinked a few times.
Robison, who injured a pectoral muscle working out a few weeks ago, is still a bystander during the first two weeks of OTAs and probably will be rested during the June 16-18 minicamp. So about that depth at left end, what say you, George?
“We feel pretty good about the position with the guys that we’ve got here working it,” he said. “We’ve got a good rotation going as far as different body types of guys that we can use at the position.
“Scott Crichton has made a big jump this year. He’s doing a good job in there for us. Hunter, we’ve worked him in there some at it. Right now, we’re just kind of putting guys in that spot and looking at the different things that they bring to the position and everybody has been doing a good job, especially with Brian being out and missing some of these days this offseason.”
Another guy working the spot in OTAs is Justin Trattou, an overlooked fourth-year pro who just kind of keeps hanging onto the bottom of the roster. He’s more of a right end, but is trying to expand his value.
“Justin has done a good job rotating from the left into the right,” Edwards said. “We were really surprised. He’s bulked up this offseason and really bought in, has a good understanding of what we’re trying to do at the position and really has flashed here at us this offseason thus far.”
Edwards went on to glow a bit about Crichton. The proof will come later, but as of early June, here’s Edwards’ take on Crichton’s progress from a virtually invisible rookie season:
“I think it’s a combination of going through all of last year. If you remember last year, he missed the whole offseason because he was on the quarters system (at Oregon State), and I just think he feels a lot more comfortable with what we’re asking him to do technique and fundamental-wise, where he’s got a lot more recall, as opposed to last year, he came in for the rookie mini camp, then missed all of that time, came back and boom, training camp. I think it all kind of got too fast for him there. Now he’s able to break things down and he’s got good recall of what we’re asking out of the position.
“One thing about Crichton is his work ethic. He’s going to outwork a lot of guys, just that’s his mindset. He’s a blue collar, out-work you (player). We’re playing him outside; he’s shown the flexibility to play inside in our nickel package. From that aspect of it, we’re pleased where he’s at right now.”
The Vikings aren’t discussing injuries. And, frankly, it’s June 5, so we shouldn’t expect someone to know how someone else will feel in late July. But logic suggests that given Robison’s age and established track record, he very well could start training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Asked if he expects Robison back for training camp, Edwards said, “I hope so. I don’t know exactly what the extent and the time period is with the injury, but I’d say that he will probably be ready.”