|With Edwards suspended and James hurt, Vikings DE Robison has another chance|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 December 2007 12:58|
In the NFL, rookies selected in the middle to late rounds are usually supposed to be seen and not heard. They are supposed to sit quietly and learn from the veterans around them, with their mouths shut and their eyes open.
Then there's Robison, a former Longhorn defensive end who is about as bashful as a San Antonio used car salesman, with a swagger as big as Texas.
``When you're around B-Rob, you don't see him as a fourth-round pick. You might mistake for a first-rounder,'' defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said with a smile. ``He has a great attitude and he has a lot of confidence.''
In his first eight games in a Vikings uniform, Robison wasn't playing like a fourth-rounder, either. He had three sacks in limited duty during four preseason games, then three more in his first four regular season games.
The Vikings had an idea of what they were getting when they traded up to the top of the fourth round to grab Robison, but his smooth transition from the Big 12 to the NFC North was no less surprising.
Then, just like that, he kind of disappeared.
Robison has just 1 1/2 sacks in the last eight games for the Vikings, leading some to wonder if he hit the infamous ``rookie wall'' that can plague first-year players not used to the longer, more grueling NFL season.
``A lot of people think maybe I'm hitting the rookie wall and that's why I'm not playing as much. But it has nothing to do with that,'' Robison said. ``I hit the wall for about three days and I've broken through it. I'm done with that.''
Robison hit the wall three weeks ago as the Vikings prepared to play the Oakland Raiders. For three straight days, ``I was always tired,'' Robison said. ``When I woke up, I still felt like I was asleep. It was definitely every bit as hard to break through as the guys said it was.''
The former NCAA shot-put standout said he did it by maintaining his diet and getting plenty of rest.
``Most rookies go through that and you just have to work through it, and he's done that,'' Frazier said. ``He played well on Sunday and we expect him to play well this Sunday.''
After developments this week, the Vikings don't just expect that to happen - they need it.
Ray Edwards, who started 11 of the first 12 games of the season and leads the team with five sacks, was suspended on Wednesday for violating the NFL's steroid policy. And with Erasmus James missing practice this week with a gimpy knee, the door is open for Robison to get back in the mix.
``I'm going to have a lot of reps, regardless of whether I'm starting or whether I'm not,'' Robison said. ``And I'll get a chance to show these guys that I deserve to be out there a little bit more.''
Despite the lack of production over the last eight games, Robison is still second on the team with 4 1/2 sacks, and could lead the defensive line in confidence.
``He's not a guy you can tell he's not good enough, and he plays that way,'' Frazier said. ``He plays to be the very best defensive end in the National Football League, and he's done well for us and we've got to get it this weekend as well.''
Depending on how serious James' knee injury is, Frazier will also look to third-year pro Jayme Mitchell at the end position opposite Kenechi Udeze. The Vikings also signed Otis Grigsby from Carolina's practice squad on Thursday to take Edwards' place on the roster.
Mitchell played five snaps against Detroit on Sunday and got one sack.
``I think Jayme Mitchell, as well as Brian Robison, can really help us in that area,'' Frazier said. ``Both have been playing throughout the season, Brian in particular, so we're hoping that it's not going to be a big dropoff.
Notes: WR Robert Ferguson returned to practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday for personal reasons. LB E.J. Henderson (illness), S Tank Williams (knee) and S Mike Doss (hamstring) also missed their second straight practice.