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Updated: July 30th, 2012 11:27pm
Pelissero: Confident Josh Robinson's hammy disrupting arc with Vikings

Pelissero: Confident Josh Robinson's hammy disrupting arc with Vikings

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by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com

MANKATO, Minn. -- Josh Robinson should have a long NFL career ahead of him.

The last thing he wants to do now is rush back from a hamstring injury and end up doing something worse that could really derail his rookie season.

But Robinson knows what an extended absence from training camp could do to his chances for being an immediate contributor to the Minnesota Vikings' defense.

"I know it definitely hurts me," Robinson said after Monday's practice, the second in a row he has missed since pulling up lame in a drill on Friday.

"But you're still trying to stay positive, still trying to get mental reps."

A third-round draft pick (66th overall), Robinson has the physical tools to start sooner than later, although the Vikings believe he needs more work on his technique and ball skills before he's ready.

He has the swagger to tangle one-on-one with experienced NFL receivers, too, as evidenced by the way he called his shot before posting the fastest 40-yard dash at February's scouting combine.

"I don't think that's going to be a big deal to him," an NFC personnel man said. "He's (expletive) confident. He told us he was going to run 4.2 (in the 40-yard dash) and we were like, 'Yeah, bull(expletive).' He went out and ran (4.29). I was like, 'All right ...'"

Robinson had been getting work with the first-team nickel defense along with starters Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield as recently as minicamp.

But the Vikings dropped Robinson to third string entering training camp -- perhaps a nod to more experienced players, or perhaps an acknowledgment of just how much Robinson has to learn despite starting 35 games in three seasons at Central Florida.

"He's got decent size," an AFC personnel director said of Robinson, who is listed at 5-10 and 199 pounds.

"I know he can run. In our meetings, I thought there might be some issues there with intelligence. But the one thing I do remember was the speed, the quickness and the size."

Still only 21 years old, Robinson has a far higher ceiling than 29-year-old Chris Carr, who has been working as the No. 3 corner. He simply has more talent than Brandon Burton, a fifth-round pick last year who scuffled in limited opportunities as a rookie.

It's difficult to polish your game when you're watching practice from the sideline, though, and that's where Robinson remains for now, with the exception of an occasional walking-pace rep on the scout team.

"Anytime you're a rookie and you miss time, it sets you back," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "But it's out of his control. An injury's an injury. You can't rush him back -- especially a hamstring and at his position. You just have to take it day to day, and when he's back, he'll catch up."

Diligent about writing down every critique coaches offer, Robinson filled a notebook in the offseason. He was reviewing it again last week in the hours after he signed a four-year, $3.015 million contract that included a $697,000 bonus.

He said on multiple occasions the past month he felt he could compete for a starting job and looked forward to the challenge. The Vikings would love if he came on that quickly, since it'd allow them to reduce the load on Winfield's 35-year-old body.

But that's all on hold until he gets the hamstring right, and the timeline hasn't changed since Robinson gave up his chase of fellow rookie Jarius Wright along the sideline.

"Just day to day," Robinson said. "Just trying to see when I'll be healthy."

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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