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Updated: July 18th, 2011 5:10pm
Notebook: Brian Robison took the hint he should be ready to start

Notebook: Brian Robison took the hint he should be ready to start

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Robison didn't receive any guarantees about his role before he re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings in early March.

But the three-year, $14.1 million contract Robison received, coupled with conversations the 28-year-old end had with two prominent decision-makers, told him everything he needed to know about the Vikings' plans.

"I did talk to Rick Spielman (the Vikings' vice president of player personnel), and he said I need to get ready, because my playing role will probably dramatically increase," Robison said on Monday, during a break in his workout on the "U" campus.

"I take that as, 'Get ready for the starting job.' And coach (Leslie) Frazier, we talked before the lockout started, and he kind of told me the same thing, was that I need to get ready because I would see that my snaps would increase to a dramatic amount and be ready to play a whole game. That's what he told me -- he said, 'You need to be able to play a whole game.'"

So, Robison enhanced his offseason training regimen. He increased his cardio work. He dabbled in mixed martial arts, kickboxing, Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu to improve his quickness, hand-eye coordination and endurance.

"Straight-line speed, I don't think it really helped me that much," Robison said. "But if you talk about side-to-side, getting explosion off the ball and stuff like that, I do feel a little bit quicker."

Robison played only 31.9% of the defensive plays last season, reaching 30 snaps in a game only twice. But he was at his most productive when starting left end Ray Edwards sat out two December games with an ankle injury.

Now, with Edwards a virtual lock to sign elsewhere as a free agent, Robison -- known around the league as a try-hard guy -- said he's "absolutely" more motivated to take advantage of the chance to take on a starting role.

He showed up to Larry Fitzgerald's annual group workouts looking relatively svelte at 265 pounds and said he hasn't second-guessed his decision to sign early, rather than trying to cash in alongside the likes of Edwards whenever free agency finally opens.

"I think any guy that tells you he wasn't going to try to test the market is crazy and out of his mind," Robison said. "I was looking forward to it, but Minnesota's a place I wanted to come back to, absolutely. Me and Rick Spielman had talked before I left and I told him that I was going to test the market if it came down to that, just to see where things are at.

"But luckily, Minnesota -- they put themselves out on the line. They felt like they wanted me and they got me and it was pretty easy to sign on that dotted line."

Rudolph feeling good

Roughly one year after he first pulled the hamstring that derailed his junior season at Notre Dame and eventually required surgery, rookie Kyle Rudolph was running sprints and catching balls at Monday's workout -- and loving every second of being healthy.

"You have no idea," Rudolph said. "Being out here, running around, feeling good. It's been awhile, and it's great."

Widely considered the best tight end in April's draft and a probable first-round pick, Rudolph slid to the Vikings in the second round (43rd overall) in part because of injury concerns.

A sports-medicine specialist told 1500ESPN.com in May that patients have a 70% to 85% chance of a full recovery from a hamstring tendon avulsion, but Rudolph and the Vikings have proclaimed the injury a non-issue.

"He's a heck of a weapon," said rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, who has been staying in the spare bedroom at Rudolph's apartment while looking for his own place.

"He's such a big tight end (6-foot-5¾ and 266 pounds). A tight end's always a quarterback's best friend, so I'm definitely very fortunate to have him."

Rudolph said he's also formed a bond with Fitzgerald, the Minneapolis native and Arizona Cardinals start whom Rudolph said has "kind of taken me under his wing" during their time together at the "U".

"For me, it'll just be getting used to the speed of the game and going in a hurry," Rudolph said. "It's a unique situation for us rookies coming in without OTAs and minicamps (because of the lockout). So, just trying to adjust it as fast as possible and get ready to go."

Herrera on the mend

Roughly eight months after a torn left anterior cruciate ligament ended his season, Vikings right guard Anthony Herrera told The News-Press he is "about 90 percent healed" from knee reconstruction and triceps surgeries.

"I've just been hanging out with the family and trying to get back in shape," Herrera told the newspaper. "When (the season) comes, I want to hit the ground rolling."

Herrera suffered the triceps injury on Nov. 14 against Chicago and blew out the knee a week later against Green Bay. He's a likely candidate for the physically unable to perform list if the Vikings open training camp as scheduled on Aug. 1.

Quick hits

• Robison joked that "I guess I'm your poor man's Ray Edwards" and reiterated the stance he first expressed on 1500 ESPN last month. "Hopefully, (Edwards will) go somewhere else and sign a big deal," Robison said, "get his 40, 50 million that he needs to get, and I'll sit here with my teensy 14 million and hopefully, get a bunch of sacks."

• Roughly 30 players took part in Monday's morning workout on a day temperatures rose into the high 90s and the heat index reached the danger zone. "It's unbelievable," said Ponder, a Dallas native who played collegiately at Florida State. "It feels like Florida, probably a little hotter than Florida. But I guess it's good to get us in shape, get us ready for the reason."

• Other Vikings participating on Monday included WR Jaymar Johnson, LB Jasper Brinkley and QB Tarvaris Jackson, who is set to become a free agent and won't return to the team.

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
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