EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It's not difficult to find members of the Minnesota Vikings organization willing to express lofty projections for Danielle Hunter's future. There are few who do it as vociferously, however, as the man whom Hunter might eventually supplant this fall.
Brian Robison is back with the Vikings for his 11th season, having restructured his deal this spring to add a year in 2018 in exchange for a salary reduction in 2017. The 34-year-old has been working with the Vikings' second-team defense this spring, while Hunter takes Robison's old spot at left end following a 12 1/2-sack season in 2016.
There will still be playing time for Robison in 2017, and the Vikings guaranteed his $3.9 million base salary this season. He's said since the end of last season that Hunter is ready to take on a bigger role, though, and on Wednesday, as the Vikings announced the two newest members of their Ring of Honor, Robison said Hunter could eventually stand alongside the greats in a franchise that's long been gilded with great pass-rushers.
"When you've got a guy like Danielle that is, obviously, on track to have probably what these guys have and be in the Ring of Honor one day, hopefully he can stay healthy and do the things he needs to do, because he's got a bright future," Robison said. "To have a guy like that, [who] looks up to you and has told me many times that he really wants to emulate some of the stuff that I do, it means a lot."
Coach Mike Zimmer has praised Robison for the way he's accepted a changing role this season, and it's likely the Vikings will continue to use Robison as an interior pass-rusher on third downs, in addition to the work he'll likely get in relief of Hunter this fall. Robison is now the Vikings' longest-tenured player with the retirement of Chad Greenway, and he's seems to grasp the responsibilities that come with being the eldest player on the defensive line.
"He means a lot to this team," defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. "He makes a lot of sacrifices and does a lot of things for this team just to win that ring. That's what we all want: a ring."
Other notes and observations from the second day of Vikings minicamp:
While Nick Easton continued to work as the first-team center, the Vikings gave Jeremiah Sirles snaps with the top offensive unit during a two-minute drill session toward the end of practice. Joe Berger was at right guard with the top group, and the Vikings worked rookie Pat Elflein at left guard on the second team with T.J. Clemmings out.
Mackensie Alexander was in the first-team defense at slot cornerback once again and nearly had an interception of Sam Bradford during a team drill. Alexander stepped in front of a Bradford pass over the middle of the field, only to see the ball bounce off his hands as he reached up to grab it.
The Vikings, at least for now, are using the names of their top two football decision-makers -- general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer -- to implement changes at the line of scrimmage. Quarterbacks Taylor Heinicke and Case Keenum could be heard yelling out "Zimmer" and later "Spielman" to make checks at the line of scrimmage.