By Joseph Gunther
Josh Robinson, CB #21
Hometown: Sunrise, FL
College: Central Florida
Robinson is viewed as the eventual replacement for Antoine Winfield, but the rookie has exceeded expectations. He has even earned a start in place of the 14-year veteran early in the season.
“You never know what to expect out of young guys,” Winfield said during the week leading up to the Week 15 win over the St. Louis Rams. “(Robinson and fellow rookie Harrison Smith) have worked hard. They’re taking care of their bodies and studying that film and making plays.”
Robinson has teamed with the first round draft pick to produce a very good rookie set of cornerback and safety.
“We’re pleased that both guys are not hurting you. And most rookies, when they do play, they hurt you,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams also said in the week leading up to the win over the Rams. “Ours are not. They’re actually helping us and contributing to us winning football games. Most rookies go through that. It is a real phenomenon in terms of guys getting tired or getting disinterested. But both guys are coming along very well.”
The two first year players have combined for 146 tackles, five interceptions, 13 passes defensed, one forced fumble and two returns for a touchdown.
The Vikings are now 9-6 and in position to make the NFC playoffs, due in large part to improved pass defense. The Vikings finished last season with a league worst 107.6 opponent’s passer rating, but have improved to the 20th best at 90.7 prior to Sunday’s games this season.
There is one game left in the season and the Vikings need to beat the Green Bay Packers to enhance its chances of making the playoffs.
“You can’t hide behind the fact that you’re a rookie anymore,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “You got 12 games into the league now, let’s start playing like veterans in a lot of ways. We challenged some of our young guys last night to step it up and they did.”
Robinson picked up his first career start in the Week 5 win over the Tennessee Titans, but has been very valuable as the nickel cornerback.
“We know at some point we’re hoping that Josh develops to the point where he can be our starting corner,” Frazier said after the win. “That’s why we drafted him when we did. We want him to eventually be a starting corner for us. When that transformation occurs, (I’m) not sure. It will be part of his development.
“We know what we’re going to get from Antoine. We’re hoping that Josh continues to come along.”
Robinson was not surprised to see veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck of the Titans throw at him early and often.
“Everyone gets tested. I get tested a little more,” he said after the game.
Robinson nearly recorded his first NFL touchdown on an interception early in the Vikings Week 14 win over the Chicago Bears at Mall of America Field, but stepped out of bounds at the five-yard line.
“I knew I was pretty close,” he said in an interview with Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press after the game. “I wasn’t really sure. I wasn’t going to act like I did step out.”
He has good ball skills and hands. He will score his share of touchdowns before his career is over.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.