For Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell, the Redskins' first-round selections in last April's NFL Draft, last weekend's mini-camp was filled with moments of uncertainty. It's all part of the transition to the NFL level.
Even so, both Rogers and Campbell were surprisingly relaxed and confident throughout the weekend.
Rogers, an Auburn cornerback selected ninth overall, participated in last Friday's mini-camp practice despite aggravating a sprained ankle. Coaches would not allow Rogers to practice in the ankle on Saturday or Sunday. Assistant head coach Gregg Williams lauded Rogers for his determination to practice despite the injury.
Williams has always been hesitant to start rookies early in their careers-- Sean Taylor didn't start until Week 3 last year--but the praise for Rogers suggests that the Auburn cornerback is certainly in the mix.
Shawn Springs, an 8-year veteran, and Walt Harris, a 9-year veteran, entered mini-camp as the expected starters at cornerback, although Rogers, Ade Jimoh, Garnell Wilds and Rufus Brown could see action in Williams' multiple sets.
Rogers has made it known that he wants to compete for a starting job.
"I know I'm going to have to earn my spot," Rogers said. "That's what I'm about, earning my spot. Nothing is going to be given to me. And I have two veteran guys in front of me who I can learn from. I'm learning something new every day."
Rogers said he feels comfortable with Williams' defensive scheme so far.
"By training camp, I'll just be more confident and ready to go," he said.
Campbell, the Auburn quarterback selected 25th overall, enters his rookie campaign in a far different situation than Rogers.
Patrick Ramsey is set as the team's starter entering training camp and Mark Brunell, a 12-year veteran, is expected to serve as the backup. That means Campbell will likely be the third quarterback this season. He'll be inactive unless Ramsey and Brunell are out with an injury.
During the mini-camp, Campbell displayed a strong arm in drills and continued to adapt to the NFL game. He knows that there's a lot more to learn--the learning curve for rookie quarterbacks is steep and reading defenses is something that can best be developed in game situations.
It's safe to say that the bulk of Campbell's playing time this season will come during the preseason.
"I think Jason is in a situation where he's kind of on overload right now," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "Every now and then, he's going the wrong way on things. We have so much in and we understand that.
"But also, in those practices, somewhere in there he'll flash and something positive will come out of there, which is what we want."
Like Rogers, Campbell also credits the veterans in front of him for helping him during mini-camp.
"Patrick and Mark are helping me out with progressions," Campbell said. "They're teaching me in meetings. All three of us get along very well."
Campbell said he has developed an instant rapport with Gibbs, who has guided three different quarterbacks to Super Bowl championships in his career.
"He's a great person," Campbell said. "He's really concerned about what we do as players on the field. I'm going to make the best of this opportunity."