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Robinson: Zimmer's Criticism 'Definitely Means He Cares'

MANKATO, Minn. — Edmond Robinson doesn't mind when Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer gets on him a bit after a mistake.

Coming from Newberry College, a small Division II school in South Carolina, the Vikings linebacker said tough coaching is just what he needs to make progress.

"That definitely means he cares," Robinson said of Zimmer's criticism. "He just wants you to go out there and do your best and give it all you've got."

Despite the harsh love, Zimmer recently singled out Robinson for another reason — his strong play to open training camp.

Zimmer said the 24-year-old, a seventh-round pick in 2015, has been progressing well and has a potentially bright future.

"He's just basically understanding things a lot more," Zimmer said. "He lines up good and can play a couple different positions, but he's powerful when he takes on a block, he's fast (and has) quick twitch.

"He's come an awful long way and he keeps getting better every day," Zimmer added. "I think he has a chance to be a really good linebacker someday. It may not be now, but he's a great worker."

Robinson said he appreciated Zimmer's praise but added he was simply focused on getting better each day. He said his strength is matching up with slot receivers and tight ends in the passing game. 

The linebacker has lined up on both the weak and strong side of the position, and said he feels like he's on a different page than his first training camp a year ago.

"I'm more comfortable now, and when you're comfortable you can play better," Robinson said. "I'm out here just finishing every play, running to the ball every play (because) you never know what could happen out there when the ball is in the air."

Hard work has certainly helped Robinson catch Zimmer's eye, but the linebacker also showed many what he could do last season when he started a pair of games while appearing in nine total.

The Vikings haven't had a linebacker start all 16 games since 2013 when Chad Greenway did it, meaning there might be opportunities for playing time for Robinson again this season.

Robinson tallied nine tackles in his two starts, gaining experience that he said was invaluable.

"You never know what's going to happen out here," Robinson said. "The best thing and only thing you can do is prepare each day and wait on that turn.

"It definitely gave me more confidence and showed me that the coaches thought that I was (well) suited to play in those games," he added. "For them to give me that chance to get in there and play, I was ready to go."

Munnerlyn using experience to his advantage

Only eight players on the Vikings have more seasons in the NFL than Captain Munnerlyn has racked up.

The nickel cornerback, who is entering his third season in purple and eighth in the NFL, said that the longevity and experience certainly helps players such as himself and cornerback Terence Newman fend off younger players aiming for more playing time.

"There's a definite edge. Terence has been in (Zimmer's) system forever, he's been with Coach Zim

for a long time," Munnerlyn said. "Me being in the system for three years now, I do have an edge.

"I've seen a lot of football, played in a lot of games so we try to use that to our advantage and just keep working," he added. "Competition is behind us but we have to keep working to get better as a football team."

The 5-foot-9 cornerback tied for

second on the team in interceptions last season as he corralled a pair of them while adding 56 tackles and a sack.

Munnerlyn, a seventh-round pick in 2009, said he still carries the same chip on his shoulder as he when he was selected by Carolina.

But he also noted he feels fresh and motivated heading into another season after getting married this offseason.

"I'm healthy and working hard," Munnerlyn said. "I'm at a great point in my life so I'm excited about that.

"And I'm excited to see where this teams going to go this year," he added.

Adjustment period

The Vikings on Wednesday practiced in pads for the third time since Sunday, continuing to get re-acclimated to contact. The session followed an off-day for the players.

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who plays one of the most physical positions on the team, said the adjustment period isn't close to being finished.

"It takes the whole training camp [to get used to contact]," Joseph said. "It takes everything, OTAs, training camp, until game three or four when you finally feel like who you want to be. That's just how it is."

Play of the day

Although there were a couple of nice plays turned in Wednesday, a one-handed catch by Stefon Diggs is hands down the best play of 2016 Verizon Vikings Training Camp so far.

Diggs faced man coverage by Munnerlyn in the red zone. The second-year receiver lined up in the slot and used a quick cut to go underneath Munnerlyn. He raced toward the back left corner of the end zone as the veteran tracked him.

Teddy Bridgewater lofted a beauty of a spiral well beyond the reach of Munnerlyn. Diggs had one option to collect the pass and reached up his right hand. The point went into his palm and he gripped it strongly, securing it in bounds before taking several more steps.

It was solid defense, but even better offense at a part of the field that is quite small. Bridgewater's placement of the ball — only where Diggs could get it — shows a smart way to take a shot at a bigtime score.

Diggs was wired during the practice and will be featured in a full video segment by the Vikings Entertainment Network.

Quotable

"We have a group here who understands that we have to be an image of our head coach. Coach Zimmer's a tough guy — mentally and physically. So we want to have that same image that he has. When we go out here in practice, that's what we want to display." — Bridgewater during a radio interview on the 9 to Noon Show on KFAN 100.3.

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