At this point, Redskins rookie safety Troy Apke grows a little weary when people bring up his NFL Combine experience, which was highlighted by a blazing 4.34 40-yard dash that made headlines when Deion Sanders walked over to congratulate him.
The time didn't surprise Apke, a track standout at Mt. Lebanon High School, where he competed in the 100, 200 and 400 meter sprint events. It remains his defining characteristic on the football field, and the fourth-round pick will try to use it to his advantage as he adjusts to life in the NFL.
The Washington Redskins held their second rookie minicamp practice of 2018 on May 12, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
That began last weekend during rookie minicamp, as Apke learned the defense and new vocabulary, cramming it into a couple of hours of practice each day. Fellow safeties Montae Nichsolson and D.J. Swearinger reached out to Apke upon being drafted and have begun working together this week as the veterans mingle with the rookies before OTAs.
"First day was great, just trying to learn the defense, get acclimated to everything,: he said following Friday's practice.
The knock on Apke – that he struggles with his coverage skills – is not lost on him, and he'll agree that his technique is something he's looking forward to improving more at the next level. "I think Coach Gray will teach me technique, things like that, things that I need to learn and I think that my speed will translate," Apke said.
The route most project for him will be to excel on special teams, an area that can utilize his speed to its best potential as he sharpens his game. He got a little taste of that over the weekend, working with special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.
"Definitely out here I try to show that I can communicate – we did punt today – so on that end just show them that I can run down and make tackles," Apke said. "That's the biggest thing on special teams."
Apke was encouraged with the end of his college career, which ended with a Fiesta Bowl victory, as he got better at harnessing his speed to make tackles in the secondary.
In his senior season, he finished with 54 total tackles, three for a loss, along with one interception and four passes defensed.
"I think I progressed a lot my last season at Penn State, just staying in control with my angles and things like that, knowing when to slow down and when to make the tackles," he said. "I think I'm still progressing in it but I think I'm getting a lot better at it."
For the time being, Apke is looking to adjust to the Ashburn area, which he's visited a couple of times, thanks to it being the hometown of Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley.
"I'm looking forward to being part of this team, outside of it just trying to have chemistry with the guys – outside the building and inside the building," Apke said.