This past offseason the Minnesota Vikings made a bold move by releasing veteran corner Antoine Winfield. Confusion swept across Minnesota as the fan favorite was not expected to be released. Winfield, who played nine season with the Vikings, was working out in the team facility right before he was released.
By cutting Winfield the Vikings also cut loose the $7.25 million Winfield was scheduled to make in the 2013 season. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman repeatedly said during a press conference after the release that they wouldn’t rule out a possible return of Winfield to the team, but, Winfield was led to believe otherwise.
“By no means do we want to shut out Antoine,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said back in March. “We hopefully want to have the door open for his return, if that’s possible.”
However, looking ahead Antoine Winfield decided to move on from the Vikings and sign with the Seattle Seahawks, a team many experts have as a potential Super Bowl caliber team. The Vikings and General Manager Rick Spielman will rely on the young corner Josh Robinson to take the reigns from Winfield. Drafted in the 3rd round in the 2012 NFL Draft, Robinson will use his speed and strength more than anything to defend the slot. At the combine, Robinson posted the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.33 seconds) in his draft class and was 2nd in vertical jump (38.5″). On top of that, he led all cornerbacks in broad jump (11’1″) as well. Robinson is an exceptionally gifted athlete with quick reaction and unthinkable athleticism. Compared to Winfield, Robinson is one inch taller and weighs nearly 20 pounds more.
The transition from an outside corner to nickle corner will be an adjustment for Robinson, but the Vikings staff is pleased with the progress Robinson has been making.
“We’re very pleased with the way Josh (Robinson) is coming along,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. “You have to be able to fit up like a linebacker in the run, and cover like a corner, and have enough range like a safety. That’s a spot that requires a big skill set, and he’s taken that on.”
Fans will need to keep on eye on Robinson as he makes the move to nickel corner. The preseason will be a big learning curve for the 22-year-old corner from Central Florida who continues to grow into his new role.
“I think he’s really growing in the position,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “The pre-season games are going to be big for him, big for our team because we need that position to play well for us because you’re on the field as much as our starters are so it’s a key role on our football team and he’s making progress which is very, very encouraging.”
Robinson had 56 tackles his rookie season and also recorded two interceptions. He responded with much more than what was asked in his rookie year and will need to follow up the same way his sophomore season. Robinson has high potential and will most likely be starting the defensive slot position in week 1 against the Detroit Lions.
Two of the most intriguing players to watch in the preseason will be Joe Webb as he moves from quarterback to wide receiver and Josh Robinson as he tries to takeover for one of the best nickle corners in the NFL, Antoine Winfield. With the transitions of Webb and Robinson, plenty of mistakes and learning curves will be made. Robinson is progressing well but will still make mistakes as expected.
“I’m pleased, Josh has never been inside before, so it is a big transition,” Alan Williams said. “You have to have a feel for the game and he’s progressed. He’s going to make mistakes, everybody does when you’re new to a position, but I feel good about how he’s picking up things.”