*The cornerback is in entering his third year in the league and continues to develop his game after switching from wide receiver during his rookie year. *
As he approaches his third year as a cornerback in the NFL, and as he reflects on his transition from playing wide receiver at the University of Florida, Quinton Dunbar believes the greatest challenge in switching positions had everything to do with his mentality.
"It's different from catching balls and not really being hard-nosed," Dunbar told Redskins.com recently during OTAs. "Switching over to the dark side and you've got to switch that mentality, attacking people, hitting people, you've got to have that aggression."
After making significant strides in his second year, Dunbar said he's very comfortable and is ready to help the team in any way he can.
Last year, Dunbar doubled his production with 26 tackles, recorded his first career sack and intercepted quarterback Eli Manning in the end zone for the second consecutive season (he also caught a trick play pass from punter Tress Way to aid the Redskins' first victory of 2016). He only started two games though, a product of being on the same team as Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland and seeing rookie Kendall Fuller take over the majority of games at the slot position.
For his part, Dunbar hasn't put too much on emphasis into becoming a slot cornerback when the team uses its nickel and dime packages, mostly because of his 6-foot-2 size.
"Obviously we had a few packages for me last year where I come in and guard tight ends and things like that," Dunbar said. "You won't really know until the season starts, then you'll know what type of packages they'll have me in."
Check out images from the Washington Redskins' defense and special teams during their sixth day of OTAs at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
A big benefit for Dunbar this offseason, besides training with some defensive back coaches in Miami, has been the addition of defensive backs coach Torrian Gray. So far, players have praised his focus on technique and using practices as a time to reacquaint themselves with a foundation based on footwork and situational awareness.
"He's a phenomenal technician and he's giving us keys to be successful in off coverages, learning things, learning quarterback draws, that allows you to have the confidence to want to play off coverage and make more plays off the ball," Dunbar said.
The defense has switched, too, with the promotion of Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator, and Dunbar has noticed the shift in aggression so far, which has included an increase in blitzes. "We're not going to try and trick the offense, we going to out there and run our stuff and we're going to beat you with our stuff," Dunbar said of how he feels the unit will operate.
That seems to be the way he's approaching his own offseason, too. He knows the team has its two starters in place and has a few recently drafted cornerbacks that will try to make an impression in training camp. But Dunbar will keep improving and keep trying to beat you with his stuff, waiting for an opportunity to take the next step in his career.
"We have a lot of talent back there, and no matter what the case may be, who starts, who plays, it won't be [a] drop-off if anything happened," Dunbar said. "Injuries do happen, I'm not wishing that on anybody, that's just part of the game, but I feel like, not just myself, but those guys behind Norman and Breeland can step up at any given moment. We've shown that and we'll continue to show it."