Broken hand not stopping roster hopes for Vikings' Roberson

MINNEAPOLIS--Tre Roberson isn't going to let a broken bone in his right hand stop him from trying to grab a spot on the Vikings' 53-man roster. Roberson, an undrafted rookie cornerback, suffered the injury during the second quarter of Minnesota's...

MINNEAPOLIS-Tre Roberson isn't going to let a broken bone in his right hand stop him from trying to grab a spot on the Vikings' 53-man roster.

Roberson, an undrafted rookie cornerback, suffered the injury during the second quarter of Minnesota's preseason opener Aug. 12 at Cincinnati. He played through it, and late in the fourth quarter knocked away a two-point conversion attempt that helped the Vikings secure a 17-16 win.

"I knew it was broken right away when I came to the sideline," Roberson said. "But I've played enough football, and I have a high enough pain tolerance, that it didn't hurt as bad, and now it doesn't even really hurt."

When Vikings special-teams coach Mike Preifer spoke to the media on Sunday, he said he wasn't aware of Roberson's injury during the Cincinnati game. Likely because Roberson, who is fighting to make the team, didn't tell anyone right away.

Roberson was held out of practice last week and did not play against the Seahawks in Seattle on Thursday. He was cleared to return to practice on Saturday and has a small plastic brace and soft wrap on his right hand as the team prepares for Sunday's preseason home opener against San Diego at U.S. Bank Stadium.


Roberson said he won't need surgery and will be able to take off the medical gear in two weeks.

It's not even close to the worst injury Roberson has had to deal with. As a sophomore quarterback at Indiana, he suffered a broken leg and sat out the 2013 season. Last year at Illinois State, he played with a broken right thumb while passing for 2,225 yards.

"It's OK," Roberson said of his latest injury. "I mean, it's a broken bone."

Roberson knows he does not have the luxury of asking for another week or two to let his hand fully heal. He is facing the major challenge of converting from college quarterback to NFL cornerback on a team that's especially deep at the position.

But Vikings coaches say they have seen good things from Roberson.

"He came in and really hadn't had any experience playing the cornerback position," defensive coordinator George Edwards said. "This offseason, he really bought into what we were trying to teach, and you can just see him getting better day to day. The No. 1 thing that's been impressive about him is for a guy that really hasn't been at the position that long, just coming in here and understanding what we're trying to do coverage-wise, he's done a nice job."

Roberson went undrafted after his 2015 season at Illinois State. The Vikings invited him to a tryout during spring practices and he signed on May 9, just not at the position he expected.

"Coming out of college, I didn't really know what I was going to do," Roberson said. "My agent told me to be prepared for a lot of things. When I came here for the tryout, I actually didn't know I was playing corner; I thought I was going to be at least a receiver or something, and I didn't know until they showed me my locker and I had a jersey number 21 in there, and they were like, 'You're going to play DB.'


"So I just came out here and gave everything my all. I told myself that no matter what, I'm going to go at everything full speed and try to be the best that I can."

Roberson started playing football at age 7 and loves everything about the game, which he believes helps his transition to an unfamiliar position.

"I talk to everyone," said Roberson, who did extra work with rookie cornerback Mackensie Alexander, the team's second-round pick, after practice Tuesday. "I'm always asking questions, always talking to anyone that's played the position, anyone that has anything to do with the position, anyone that plays defense. I'm always talking and asking what I can get better at."

Roberson continues the learning process when he goes home.

"I'm a football junkie, I'm always watching film, always watching football," he said. "I'll sit in my room and the NFL Network is on all night, I'm just watching games. It's not really that hard to learn because I've been playing football all my life and I know all about the game."

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