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Updated: June 5th, 2013 10:08pm
Notebook: Arms healed, Brian Robison 'can be a double-digit sack guy'

Notebook: Arms healed, Brian Robison 'can be a double-digit sack guy'

by Tom Pelissero and Andrew Krammer
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Brian Robison finished last season with one bulky brace protecting a badly injured right shoulder, another protecting the left elbow that had bothered him all season.

Well, technically, he finished it on the sideline in Green Bay, where a painkilling shot wore off and the torture of the Grade 3 sprain in the shoulder proved too much in the third quarter.

"The most difficult thing was feeling like I didn't have any arms to play with," Robison said on Wednesday. "It was like going in there, trying to basically put my hands behind my back and play everything with my shoulders."

Neither injury required surgery, though, and Robison looked to be his old, disruptive self during Wednesday's organized team activity practice.

He intercepted starting quarterback Christian Ponder twice -- once off a deflection, then again in the end zone during a backed-up drill when he leapt into the passing lane and snared the ball in midair, drawing roars from his defensive teammates.

"The more you can do (the better)," Robison said. "So, I'm trying to show my (defensive back) skills out there."

A little more than a month past his 30th birthday, Robison is entering a contract year coming off arguably the best of his six NFL seasons, despite the physical challenges he faced.

He hurt the elbow in Week 2 at Indianapolis, then sprained the shoulder on Dec. 16 at St. Louis and missed the Vikings' next game -- only to return and record a crucial strip-sack in the regular-season finale against Green Bay that lifted the Vikings into the playoffs.

"I think he's one of those guys who can be a double-digit sack guy," coach Leslie Frazier said of Robison, who has 16½ sacks in two seasons since replacing Ray Edwards as the starting left end.

"He has that type of burst and athleticism. We've seen it on a number of occasions. We just want him to be consistently good throughout 16 games, and he's been able to do that in spurts."

Staying relatively healthy would be a good start.

"It's been nice not to have braces on the left arm, braces on the right arm and things like that," Robison said. "Shoulder's definitely healed up a lot quicker than I thought it was going to. I feel good, man. I really do."

Long look

Josh Robinson continued to work with the starting defense in the base defense and play the slot in nickel as he tries to fill the void left by the March release of veteran Antoine Winfield.

A third-round draft pick last year, Robinson stayed after practice Wednesday along with fellow cornerbacks Roderick Williams, Bobby Felder and Xavier Rhodes to work on additional coverage drills -- something defensive backs coach Joe Woods does on a regular basis.

"I can't really watch my film right now," Robinson said. "Don't have film on (playing nickel cornerback). I just have to get the techniques down."

Instead, Robinson (5-10, 199 pounds) has been watching his predecessor's film, trying to absorb how Winfield (5-9, 190) would bully receivers who towered over him at the line.

"He's not the biggest guy," Robinson said. "But he's a guy who can get his way to the ball and make plays."

Big-play Patterson

Rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson made the day's standout offensive play in a 7-on-7 passing drill.

The first-round draft pick from Tennessee stretched out to haul in a go ball from Ponder for a gain of more than 30 yards against Rhodes.

"Everyone is catching everything right about now," Patterson said. "You catch something like that and the defense starts saying, 'Just wait until we can hit, rookie.'"

Patterson's was a bright spot on an uneven day for the offense, which was challenged with a variety of blitz and hurry-up situations.

"He's got a lot of speed," Ponder said of Patterson, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the NFL scouting combine in February. "He's got a long stride. Big body. He's pretty much everything you want in a receiver."

Ponder was at his best in a move-the-ball drill, completing four straight passes, and finished 8-of-12 in team (11-on-11) periods. But he also threw a third interception to Williams on an overthrown corner intended for tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Matt Cassel was 4-of-10 passing and threw consecutive interceptions to A.J. Jefferson and Brandon Burton. McLeod Bethel-Thompson was 6-for-6 passing, including five straight completions in his move-the-ball period, and James Vandenberg was 2-for-2.

Hurrying it up

The Vikings conducted a portion of team drills with the first- and second-team offenses alternating plays on either side of the 50-yard line -- something NFL teams have begun incorporating the past couple of years to increase the repetitions they can in practices limited time-wise by the collective-bargaining agreement.

"I've been thinking about it for a while, and this 2-hour rule really kind of cramps your style a little bit when you're talking about practice and what you're trying to get accomplished," Frazier said.

"I've been thinking about it for a number of days, and we went through our first three days last week and over the weekend I tossed and turned about how can I get more out of the guys we do have from an evaluation standpoint and I talked to a friend of mine on another staff about some of the things that they were doing."

He also talked to offensive quality control coach Klint Kubiak and assistant to the head coach Jeff Howard, who both were in the college ranks a year ago.

"I think they had like 20 hours per week where they can get work in," Frazier said. "(Kubiak) explained what they did at Texas A&M and Jeff was at Texas Tech. I listened and I wanted to try it. We did it (Tuesday) and our players liked it, our coaches really liked it. I think it's something we'll incorporate for the remaining OTAs."

Summers returns

Receiver Chris Summers returned to practice on Wednesday after missing some time to start this offseason with a strained hamstring.

"I feel like I'm near 100 percent," Summers said. "It allows me to work on my technique and get into the playbook and know what's going on."

Summers, 23, signed to the Vikings' practice squad before last season and could be in competition for the fifth receiver spot at split end behind Jerome Simpson.

"I just need to work on technique, being sound," Summers said. "I'm a tall body. Small things like that can help take my game to the next level."

Health watch

Cornerback Jacob Lacey underwent thumb surgery and will be sidelined until training camp.

The only other surprise absence from practice was rookie linebacker Nathan Williams, who "has an ankle that's bothering him a little bit, so we held him out of some things," Frazier said.

End Jared Allen, who is coming off shoulder and knee surgeries, was a spectator. So were center John Sullivan, linebacker Michael Mauti and receiver Greg Childs as they continue to rehabilitate from their respective knee surgeries.

Quick hits

• With the Vikings defense mostly working on nickel, Letroy Guion took the lion's share of reps with the starters at nose tackle. Fred Evans got the first reps in the base defense in team drills during last week's open OTAs.

• The Vikings hosted 50 Special Olympics Minnesota athletes at practice for a punt, pass and kick clinic and autograph session.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for 1500ESPN.com. He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer
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