Jim Schwartz: It'll be 'interesting' not seeing Antoine Winfield
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- For the first time since 2008, the Detroit Lions will lineup against a Minnesota Vikings team without receiver Percy Harvin and cornerback Antoine Winfield, two playmakers vital to the Vikings' 5-3 record over the Lions in that stretch.
In a conference call on Wednesday morning, Lions coach Jim Schwartz discussed Harvin's replacements, but didn't give such recognition to cornerback Josh Robinson, who fills Winfield's shoes at slot corner.
"There's a lot of guys that we know," Schwartz said. "Little different skill positions, not having Percy Harvin and getting [Greg] Jennings in there and going and getting Cordarrelle Patterson and how they'll use him. Defensively, you see a lot of those same guys. A few changes at linebacker.
"It's going to be interesting not seeing Antoine Winfield out there."
Robinson saw 74 snaps in the preseason to prepare as the Vikings' nickel cornerback, 46 of those put a bad taste in fans' mouths as he was torched against the San Francisco 49ers.
Robinson allowed nine completions on nine targets, including a touchdown and a 136.1 QB rating from quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Colt McCoy. Robinson was also flagged for a face mask penalty in the 34-14 loss on Aug. 25.
He's new and needs time to adapt to the role and responsibilities, but that stat line is a long throw from Winfield, who anchored the Vikings secondary for nine seasons and compiled 62 pass deflections, 21 interceptions and two touchdowns in purple.
Robinson had six starts in his rookie season, Winfield retired this week with 173.
Schwartz and the Lions' staff have the 49ers tape and they know the gap Winfield left, but their strength isn't necessarily in receiver depth.
When receiver Calvin Johnson likely draws double teams -- Robinson won't see much help and could be left on an island. Fortunately for Robinson, after Johnson and Nate Burleson, the Lions' three other receivers have a combined 79 career receptions.
However, lining up on tight end Tony Scheffler or running back Reggie Bush could be just as damaging for the second-year cornerback.