Tuesday, September 1, 2015

josh robinson

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Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) of the Star Tribune joins the show to talk about our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings as we count down the days until we’re back in the hood in Mankato ready to launch this 2015 season into orbit. This year’s version of 4th of July has come and gone (without any Vikings pulling a JPP, FTW), so grab some leftover BBQ, toss some aloe on the sunburns, and listen to some Purple FTW! goodness!

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As originally reported by Nat Jordan, Josh Robinson tore his pectoral muscle in the offseason and could be out for a significant period of time.


Ben Goessling at ESPN has confirmed the story and Darren Wolfson at KSTP has reported that it’s likely not season-ending. He joins Brandon Fusco, Brian Robison and Phil Loadholt as Vikings who have torn their pectoral muscles under the new regime, which seems like a lot.

From a depth chart perspective, this means that Robinson will not be in the battle to win the starting cornerback job. Given the immense depth the Vikings finally have at cornerback, that’s not as bad this year as it would be most years, and Terence Newman or Trae Waynes could win the outside spot, something Captain Munnerlyn is also competing for (though likely it seems like he will be a slot-only nickel package CB).

Robinson had a better year than many of his detractors would say, and he was an average-level starting cornerback, who would have been pretty phenomenal depth. He still will be, if Wolfson is right and the injury is not season-ending. Master Tesfatsion at the Star Tribune reports similar—Josh Robinson does not expect to be out for the year.

Neither Robinson nor Munnerlyn had participated in offseason workouts, and Terence Newman was the starting cornerback, with rare opportunities for Waynes to get on the field—mostly as a slot CB in nickel packages, which might not be his role in the future. Waynes will have to force Newman down the depth chart to really take advantage of this and become the starter Week 1.

This could also help out Jabari Price after an arrest for suspicion of impaired driving (since reduced to reckless driving). This will help him our more if Robinson enters the season on PUP or short-term injured reserve, but it cements the importance of depth at the position, something that can only help him.

The rash of pectoral muscle tears could be random, or it could be a product of switching to free weights from machines—designed by strength and conditioning coach Marcus Evans to create more dynamic and explosive movements instead of isolating muscles, though it may increase injuries.

For what it’s worth, Miami had the 9th-best record when it comes to injuries when Evans was employed there as the S&C coach from 2008 to 2010. None of the players they had on injured reserve in that period were there because of pectoral injuries, as far as I can tell.

Either way, it’s something the Vikings have to look into. That doesn’t mean changing the strength and conditioning program, but perhaps finding ways to reduce the incidence of injury.

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Andy: Right Guard and Safety [Not Named Harrison]
With Fusco shifting to the left side, it’s been a gong show of potential right guard suitors with second-year Papa Yank rotating in with the two rookies Tyrus Thompson and TJ Clemmings. Clemmings seemed to be the favorite before OTAs, but now it’s anyone’s game. What is nice is the depth of young competition at what was a problem position group last season due to injury and ineptitude.

At the safety opposite Harrison, I’m just looking for anyone who passes the BTB (Better-Than-Blanton) Scale (patent pending). Boxscore scouts overrate Blanton because of his high tackle numbers, but we Vikings fans know. It’s easy to pad your tackle stats when your man is wide open and catches it in front of you. I’m not sure if Sendejo is anything more than a good special teamer at this point. Taylor Mays is a Zimmer guy, but he has always been a liability in coverage. But my two love interests are second-year man (and special teams penalty hobbyist) Antone Exum and undrafted free agent Anthony Harris. Like the guard spot, we have some young depth. May the best man win. Or at least pass the BTB Scale.

Brett: Strong Safety
Though there are multiple intriguing position battles as the Vikings prepare to head to training camp, I think the most interesting is at strong safety. I’m higher than most on Robert Blanton but would be lying if I told you I believe he’s the long-term answer opposite Harrison Smith. The Vikings drafted Antone Exum last year and picked up UDFA Anthony Harris this year. Both guys should push Blanton for a starting spot, especially if Blanton continues to be plagued by injuries. The unexpected release of Taylor Mays the morning of the first day of mini-camp means it’s up to one of the two younger challengers to unseat Blanton and break up the Fighting Irish tandem currently at safety.

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Only a few days remain until the 2015 NFL Draft, so looking ahead to the 2016 free agency situation seems incredibly far away. It’s worth being aware of, however, because the Vikings have 23 players entering the final year of their contract this season.

On top of those 23, keep this in mind: 2012 first-round pick Harrison Smith has a fifth-year option in his contract, which gives the Vikings another 16 games to make any long-term decisions. According to ESPN, GM Rick Spielman has until May 3 to decide on the extra year. It seems safe to say at this point, however, that Spielman will go to lengths to keep Smith in purple, and it could be costly. The safety’s current deal is worth $7.14 million.

There will be a lot of decisions to be made regarding re-signing, restructuring, or saying “good-bye” to lots of roster members, so let’s see who will be free agents prior to the 2016 season:

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

SPECIAL TEAMS

*will be a restricted free agent

Let’s take a look at a few of the more notable players on this list…

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings seem to be looking very closely at this year’s top cornerback prospects and, unless your name is Xavier Rhodes, current Vikings cornerbacks have to feel at least a little uneasy about their job security and position on the depth chart.

Second-year hopeful Jabari Price made himself more expendable arrested for suspicion of driving impaired back in December, so he certainly seems like a candidate for the “bubble” battles coming up in Mankato.

Price had his charge reduced to careless driving this last Wednesday and agreed to 30 days of electronic home monitoring, paid a $300 fine, and has entered a substance abuse education program, according to Access Vikings. It is also worth noting that he has passed each of his drug tests leading up to Wednesday’s court appearance.

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