|Edwards, Robison emerging as draft bargains for Vikings|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 21 November 2007 23:50|
Edwards leaped to his feet, crouched slightly and rapidly moved his arms in a tight circle in front of him, mimicking the motion Culpepper used to do when he threw touchdown passes in purple.
The dance is called ``The Roll,'' and Edwards has begun to get on one himself.
It's been a slow process for a player who didn't learn defensive end until he started college at Purdue, but Edwards - along with fellow end Brian Robison - has emerged as a second-day draft bargain for the sack-starved Vikings.
ormer Vikings star Randy Moss.
Edwards was also a linebacker in the past, before he switched to end in college. Robison - Minnesota's fourth-round draft pick this year - did the same in high school and moved up at Texas. They've become fast friends, even drawing the tandem nickname ``Salt and Pepper'' from teammates.
``We have a lot of things in common. We've kind of become pretty much attached since I've gotten here,'' Robison said, adding: ``We have a lot of fun with it.''
They're also leading the team list in sacks, with 4 1/2 for Robison and four for Edwards. Kenechi Udeze, the first-round draft pick in 2004, also has four. There have been games when the rush has been lacking, and certainly that's part of the reason why the Vikings are still stuck in last place in the league in defense against the pass.
But after recording only 30 sacks in 2006, they've got 23 through 10 games and are on pace to better that paltry total. The energy infused by Edwards and Robison has helped the progress.
``As a defensive line, we're always going to look at it and say we could always do better, but I think we're doing a tremendous job this year of getting pressure on the quarterbacks and making them make some decisions on the run,'' Robison said.
Erasmus James, Minnesota's first-round draft pick in 2005, has not panned out because of injuries and inconsistency. Edwards took advantage of James's slow recovery from knee surgery and has had the starting job at right end since the beginning of training camp. Robison, officially, is listed as the backup to Edwards but plays often - and sometimes together with Edwards.
``Salt and Pepper'' even teamed to take Culpepper down in the end zone in last Sunday's win over the Raiders, causing him to commit an intentional grounding infraction that gave the Vikings a safety.
Coach Brad Childress, asked specifically about the performance of Edwards, lauded him for playing the run, too, and said he's on a ``steady to upward trend.''
``He hasn't been doing the same things all year long,'' Childress said. ``He had a couple different moves ... that I thought were very good.''
This week, with Minnesota traveling to New York for a Sunday game against the Giants, Edwards gets a chance up close to see a guy he's tried to emulate while trying to master the position. Michael Strahan, who has been the league's premier pass rusher for the past decade.
Asked about that adulation in a conference call with the Minnesota media Wednesday, Strahan said, ``I guess it's a compliment. It means you're doing something right.''
Said Edwards: ``I'm still learning a lot. At linebacker, you get banged into a little bit, you don't get banged as much. ... Got to hit somebody every play, so I'm still getting used to that more and more.''