Brian Robison is set to take on a huge role in the new-look Vikings defense this season. With Jared Allen and Kevin Williams playing for other teams, he and Chad Greenway are the clear leaders. Robison signed a four year deal with the Vikings in 2013, worth up to $28.3 million dollars. We were able to get an interview with Brian to discuss how things are going in training camp thus far and how he feels this defense is progressing.
DN: Obviously there's a whole new coaching staff in place. How is the approach to training camp different under these new coaches?
BR: Well I think what we do that's different from years past is that we come out here and they're not super long practices. But they're rapid fire. We're always going. It's a hundred miles an hour every single play. And I think that's going to be a good change of pace for us. And then the passion out of our coaches and things like that, in the way that they coach us. It's starting to show up on the field, the way the players communicate and things.
DN: Obviously your defense looks a little different with Jared Allen and Kevin Williams having left and new players brought in. How does that affect the chemistry of your line?
BR: Well, obviously there's going to be some growing pains there, but I think we're doing a great job of picking it up. Having that camaraderie and competition that we need in order to build the cohesiveness among our defensive line. I think the way we've been going about these first three or four days of training camp, things have been going really well for us and we've been able to play off of each other like we've been doing it for a while.
DN: You and Chad Greenway are the veteran leaders of this defense. How do you work with and mentor the younger players?
BR: Well, you know, we just try to help them any way we can. When you're trying to win ball games, you're only as good as your weakest link. So we make sure we get out here and help these guys with anything we see that they might need a little help on or any questions they may have. We try to mentor them in that way and give them an opportunity to be a better player and if we can do that, then it makes our team better.
DN: How do you expect opposing offensive lines to react to this defensive line with Jared Allen and Kevin Williams both gone?
BR: Ah, it'll be interesting. You know, we'll have to see how that goes throughout the preseason and maybe even early in the [regular] season. We play a very aggressive style of defense here and it will be interesting to see how they try to scheme us up and do those things, but the bottom line is that we are going to get after people and do our jobs. We're going to try to keep offenses off balance and get to their quarterback and stop their run game.
DN: Have any of the rookies on defense impressed you so far?
BR: Yeah, I mean Anthony Barr obviously you just look at him and he impresses you, but he's been playing well on the field as well Scott Crichton has been doing a very good job as well. We've got to keep bringing him along. He's going to be a good depth role player for us. So those are two guys I've seen on the defense that have been doing really well for us.
DN: What did you make of Jared Allen's comments about wanting to leave Minnesota because he wants to win now?
BR: You know, I mean, it's a business. And I understand guys do what they want to do for money or in order to win Super Bowls. There's all sorts of things in this business that guys will leave a team for. I wish the best of luck to him. We'll see him somewhere down the road.
DN: Over/Under on the number of f-bombs Zimmer drops during the first preseason game?
BR: Oh, in the first preseason game? Are we talking the first quarter? First half?
DN: Let's say first quarter.
BR: Yeah, because a whole game, you know, might be infinity. We'll say first quarter, hopefully not too many because the starters will be in there a little bit, but even if we're doing well, I mean, I'd still say probably fifteen.
DN: The atmosphere out on the field feels kind of relaxed, guys seem like they are working very hard, but also really enjoying it. How is that compared to previous years?
BR: Well, like I said, it kind of goes back to us not dragging practice along and doing those things. You know, we get out here and we do a lot of hard work, but we do it in a short amount of time. That doesn't mean we're working less. If anything, we are working harder than we have in years past. It's been really good for us. Guys are really taking it in and taking advantage of the opportunities that we are being given on the field. And I think that's great to boost morale.