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Robinson slowly growing into his role with Vikings

EDEN PRAIRIE -- Koren Robinson caught the kickoff, zoomed straight ahead, darted left and ran up the sideline. Green Bay's Ryan Longwell, the player who booted him the ball and the only man left last Sunday between Robinson and his first touchdow...

EDEN PRAIRIE -- Koren Robinson caught the kickoff, zoomed straight ahead, darted left and ran up the sideline.

Green Bay's Ryan Longwell, the player who booted him the ball and the only man left last Sunday between Robinson and his first touchdown for Minnesota, nudged him out of bounds after a 72-yard return.

The Vikings fumbled on the next play, rendering Robinson's effort temporarily moot. But it was a big step forward in his quest to regain status as one of the league's true skill-position standouts.

Following the game came the classic cliche question: So how did it feel?

"Like a Ferrari," Robinson said, smiling slyly.

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Stuck in an alcohol treatment center for a month this summer after a drunken driving charge, Robinson -- released by Seattle after a litany of troubles -- wasn't sure if he would ever get another chance to don an NFL jersey. Let alone race around the field, imagining he was a sports car.

"Just being able to show people my play-making ability, that's good for me," Robinson said. "I feel like I'm doing something, like I'm contributing to the win."

Minnesota signed him just before the regular season started to bolster its depth.

The Vikings also wanted to and take a chance on a speedy, talented player who was drafted with the ninth overall pick by the Seahawks in 2001 and racked up 1,240 yards and five touchdowns receiving the next year.

Inactive for the first two games this season, Robinson has only three catches for 13 yards in four contests while playing a crowded position -- but he has helped fill a void on the kickoff return. His 25-yard return late in the fourth quarter against the Packers last week gave the Vikings a shot to complete two passes and let Paul Edinger kick the winning 56-yard field goal while time expired.

"I was just playing my role, whatever my role is," said Robinson, whose 23.6-yard average ranks seventh in the NFC. "I would like to have more opportunities on the offensive side of the ball, but I guess that's going to come with time. I feel like when you make a big play on special teams ... that's just going to boost my confidence up. Then I'm going to just go out even harder on the offensive side of the ball and try to do something even bigger."

Special teams have been a problem for Minnesota since Mike Tice became coach in 2002, but the overall performance by those units against Green Bay was one of the best for the Vikings in years.

"I'm very pleased how we came out," Tice said.

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It will be tough for Robinson, at least this season, to develop into a go-to receiver again -- especially with top target Nate Burleson back now from a knee injury. Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson and Troy Williamson are also featured in a variety of offensive sets, tight end Jermaine Wiggins leads the team with 32 receptions and running back Mewelde Moore is a proven pass-catcher.

"He's a guy that obviously has some abilities, and he'll be a guy we'll continue to work in the offense," coordinator Steve Loney said. "I think he's getting more and more comfortable with it."

That's fine with Robinson, who knew he was going to have to be patient.

"Can't be picky. Can't be choosy or anything like that," he said. "You know what type of situation you're going into, so just be willing to do whatever they ask. I am. I'm not having no bad feelings about it or anything like that. So everything is cool."

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