Josh Robinson begins task of filling Antoine Winfield's shoes
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MANKATO, Minn. -- In a Minnesota Vikings' secondary chock full of question marks, there is none bigger or more important than new nickel cornerback Josh Robinson.
In his second year, Robinson is tagged with the task of replacing veteran Antoine Winfield, who utilized his 5-foot-8, 180-pound frame to slam into opposing running backs as if he were an outside linebacker.
"Josh [Robinson] has never been inside before, so it's a big transition," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "I think I said it the other day, people don't understand how tough that nickel spot is. You have to fit up like a linebacker or safety inside the box and cover like a corner outside."
The Vikings should hope Robinson got his mistakes out of the way early, in which he allowed a 70 percent completion rate to opposing quarterbacks in his rookie season.
At 5-foot-10, 199 pounds, Robinson is already taller and heavier than Winfield, but the way Winfield played bigger than himself, clashing through offensive lines, is unexplainable on paper. Robinson said he tacked on five to 10 pounds in the offseason in preparation for playing inside.
"Last year I was around 193, 194 [pounds]," Robinson said. "I gained a little more muscle mass just to be able to take a couple of 300-pounders and things like that."
Robinson had his best day of training camp on Thursday, nabbing one interception and stripping the ball out of Jerome Simpson's hands as the receiver caught the ball 30 yards downfield -- both plays in passing drills.
A receiver in high school, Robinson also racked up ten interceptions at the University of Central Florida and had two as a rookie last season.
The unanswered question remains how effective can he be at stopping the run, while still reading his keys and defending the pass.
"He's going to make mistakes, everybody does when you're new to a position," Williams said. "But I feel good about how he's picking up things."
Coach Leslie Frazier said Robinson's first week of camp has shown potential. The Vikings currently have cornerback Jacob Lacey working at second-team nickel corner behind Robinson.
"We're much more comfortable with him today than we were say three or four days ago when we opened camp," Frazier said. "We just have to keep putting him in situations because this is all new for him and letting him gain experience."
"We need that position to play well for us."