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Confidence Builds In Second Day of Minicamp

It is just two days into rookie minicamp, but already the newcomers are beginning to grasp the way head coach Dan Quinn runs practice and are playing within the techniques of the staff's speed-based philosophies.

With veteran arrival still weeks away, the rookies are getting a true head start with the system and style of practice that will be new for the veteran roster. That is going to be a huge factor when team activities get underway and its remains one of the most anticipated aspects of the offseason.

"There was a small amount of install (Saturday), but there was great recall from yesterday and I really felt the guys straining and going for it," Quinn said. "Those guys worked really hard with assignments and playing techniques so (there was) a lot thrown at them in two days and so far we're off to a great start."

Seventh round draft pick Akeem King is one of six cornerbacks at the minicamp and has enjoyed what he has seen in the system.

The former San Diego State defensive back revealed the simplicity of his assignments through the first two days of work and admitted that it was the Georgia humidity and the speed of practice that has required more adjusting than the coverages.

"The tempo definitely hit me unexpectedly," King said. "I am from Cali so the humidity and all that kicks in too, but it is just something you have to grind through."

King, who has the ability to play corner, nickel or safety with his 6-foot-1, 212-pound frame explained the most important thing for him at cornerback in this defense is to defend the deep ball.

"It is pretty basic," King said. "Just don't get beat deep. It's either cover three or man. … That's no problem for me. I'm just trying to work on the step kick out of our release and that's probably the biggest thing. Trying to press and my technique."

Lining up across from King during minicamp is fourth round draft pick and wide receiver Justin Hardy. The speedy East Carolina alum is penned to be a slot guy but he came out for the second straight day and showed what he can do lining up on the outside and also on special teams.

Practice opened with special teams drills and the receiver known for his route running and hands was playing on punt team. Seeing what the new pieces like Hardy can do when challenged in different special teams situations is an important aspect of practice that Quinn uses to build confidence individually.

"We are trying to find all the unique stuff that a player has," Quinn said. "You can imagine running backs trying to be on punt protection and going backwards for the first time in their life, so that footwork that is totally challenging and new for them. I always think that when we do something new it challenges us to say I can do that."

Day 2 was a sigh of relief for seventh round draft pick Jake Rodgers. The 6-foot-6 tackle spent about 16 hours on airplanes travelling from Spokane on Thursday and did not arrive until midnight before Day 1.

"Today was a lot better. I felt very good about it," said a relieved and rested Rodgers.

Rodgers admitted to feeling a step behind Day 1 after all the travelling and delays but Day 2 was able to work closely with new offensive line coach Chris Morgan and settled in nicely.

"He (Morgan) is a good teacher," Rodgers said. "He is all about technique. He doesn't scream a lot but he is a great teacher and I really like playing for him so far."

Rodgers played mostly right tackle at Eastern Washington but moved throughout his career to both sides of the offensive line and is looking forward to competing at both positions.

"I played mostly right but bounced around all over in college," said Rodgers after Saturday's session. "That is a value about me that I can play both sides."

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