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At First Mini-Camp, Thomas Is Catching On

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Like most rookies, Redskins draft pick Devin Thomas is eager to make a good first impression at his first Redskins mini-camp.

The Michigan State wide receiver, the 34th overall pick of the second round in last Saturday's NFL Draft, took things in stride, knowing that he has a big adjustment ahead of him.

"I was just out there trying to learn, and trying to knock some of the rust off," Thomas said. "It's my first time out, and I got a lot of help from the veterans."

The 6-2, 218-pound Thomas sported a new jersey, No. 11, in his first activity at Redskins Park.

His only setback pertains to a matter much more serious that football. Thomas won't be at Saturday's mini-camp sessions because he has to leave town to attend the funeral of his grandmother.

Thomas is expected back Saturday night and should participate in Sunday's final mini-camp practice.

Regarding Thomas's first action as a Redskin, wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said: "No major mistakes. In fact, Devin showed speed, acceleration, and the ability to get separation. Antwaan [Randle El] and Santana [Moss] got his attention.

"The veterans helped school Devin up. It's his first day, so everybody is looking to see what the first draft pick has, in terms of his game."

Thomas declared for the NFL Draft after his junior campaign. He set a school record with 79 receptions and ranked second in the Big 10 Conference with 1,260 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Those who criticize Thomas say he was something of a one-year wonder. Yesterday, in his first experience at the NFL level, he fit in about as well as could be expected.

"I have a lot of good mentors here--I can see that already," Thomas said. "I'm a pretty patient guy. But I couldn't wait to get out here and learn some things about my new teammates. There's a lot to learn, but I feel as though I'm up for the challenge."

He added: "I know this is a great opportunity, a blessing. Getting up to speed with exactly what this offense is all about is not something that will come overnight.

"I know I really need to work at it, learning the routes, the vocabulary and all the other details."

Thomas admitted to butterflies before Friday's practices.

"But I was pretty relaxed out there overall," he said. "I didn't try to do too much. I just tried to take everything in and do what the coaches said."

"I felt like it was real smooth, real organized. We understood what the coaches were trying to do."

Thomas and fellow second-round pick Malcolm Kelly, the wide receiver out of Oklahoma, are roommates in the mini-camp.

They're studying the new playbook together as sort of a crash course into Zorn's version of the West Coast approach to offense.

"A lot of the older receivers talk to us and help us out with certain things we do wrong and try to touch us up and polish things," said Thomas.

"I've been waiting a while, anticipating mini-camp. To finally come out here, to have good weather and everything, it was a great first practice.

"It is a big difference. In college you have a little less pressure, as far as being comfortable with your position. Now it's a job. Everybody is fighting for a job. You have to work a little harder and really pay attention."

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