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Pro Bowler? Vikings’ Aldrick Robinson has hopes, but not on football field

December 18, 2018

As a Vikings receiver, Aldrick Robinson is scoring touchdowns at a higher rate per catch than every NFL player except Seattles Jaron Brown and Cincinnatis John Ross.

However, as de facto founder, coach and general manager of the Vikings bowling team Pin Busters, the little speedster has issues.

Were in 10th place, Robinson said of his entry in the Monday night mens league at Town Hall Lanes in Minneapolis.

How many teams?

Ten, he fessed up. But, in our defense, we got started late.

The league started in August. Robinson and his 15-pound Hammer ball didnt arrive in town until Sept. 17, when the Vikings needed another deep threat. Then, two weeks later, he and former Redskins teammate Kirk Cousins were busy connecting on two touchdown passes in a prime-time shootout loss to the Rams in Los Angeles.

And we had to miss last Monday night, too, Robinson said.

The Vikings had a game in Seattle. Pin Busters had a home game at the same time.

It was a game-time decision, Robinson said. We chose Seattle.

Robinson started bowling in 2012 when he was with the Redskins. Unlike most NFL players who dream of becoming a Pro Bowler, Robinson dreams of becoming an actual Pro Bowler.

Im legit, he said. I believe I can play with anybody. Ive had an average of like 205. Best game is 290. Best league series was 740. Bowled good that day.

But this fall, the overachieving football player with five touchdowns in 17 catches including a 40-yarder in Sundays rout of the Dolphins is underachieving on the lanes.

My average is down in this league, he said. Its about 185.

(Feel free to start a Fire Al-drick! chant in 3, 2, 1 )

As Pin Busters general manager, Robinson has depth issues. He needs three bowling teammates each week, and he has a locker room filled with 62 other football players to choose from.

And yet only two of them tackle Storm Norton and tight end Cole Hikutini off the practice squad are Pin Busters regulars. Storm is 6-7, 317 pounds and looks like he could bowl overhanded.

When we first started playing, we would get noticed when Storm was there, Hikutini said. Theyd come up to him and say, Dude, you should play football. And were like, Yeah, we play.

It didnt take long for Robinsons name to become recognizable. As a Viking, hes doing what hes done in Washington, Atlanta and San Francisco: Cross the goal line every 6.1 catches.

Everybody knows I run deep a lot, Robinson said. So I know when the ball comes my way, its going to be a deep ball. And theres a high-percent chance its going to be a touchdown.

Robinson has 14 touchdowns in 86 career catches. When Buddy Ryan cut Cris Carter in Philadelphia in 1990 and famously said, All he does is catch touchdowns, Carter had 19 touchdowns in 89 career catches.

But, getting back to Pin Busters, Robinson says Norton averages about 150 while Hikutini is up to around 140 after being introduced to the game last spring when he and Robinson were with the 49ers.

Hes lowballing me, Norton says. Ive been in the 180s, 190s lately. I expect a big headline on this.

And Ive been hot, Hikutini said. I bowled a 255 a couple weeks ago. He doesnt know what hes talking about.

Uh-oh. Theres a schism on the Pin Busters.

Coach Robinson also cant find a consistent No. 4 man to fill out his team. Hes used practice squad tackle Adam Bisnowaty, a non-playing friend who visited from out of town and even an opposing teams No. 5 man.

I talked to [receiver] Brandon Zylstra and hes going to be our fourth, Robinson said.

Zylstra? Norton said when he heard the news. He always bails on us.

No way Zylstra shows up, Hikutini said.

Robinson said hes waiting to hear from tight end Tyler Conklin. And safety Jayron Kearse has become a definite maybe.

JK speaks highly of himself as a bowler, Robinson said. Well see.

What about Stefon Diggs?

Hes not a bowler, Robinson said. I can tell.

Adam Thielen? Your buddy Kirk?

Theyre golfers, Robinson said. I got some golf clubs once. Threw them away the next week. I couldnt do it. Too frustrating. I found my niche with bowling.

Good enough to go pro?

Definitely, Robinson said. Once Im done toying around here in the NFL.

Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: mcraig@startribune.com

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