The difference from rookie season to sophomore season in the NFL is as clear as night and day. Broncos cornerback Alphonso Smith has noticed that in his second year in the league, he is already feeling much more comfortable in his role with the team.
“I feel much better. Last year I was a rookie, so I didn’t know anything…Coming into this year, you have 20 games to look at. Just having that little experience under my belt gives me comfort. Coming in as a rookie, you’re so uptight, anxious, and nervous, and I was off my game.”
Smith said that he notices that he doesn’t have to think as much, and is able to react to the game around him.
“I’m just playing now. As a rookie, you have to think a whole lot because you don’t know anything coming into a new system with new coaches and new teammates. Having a chance to learn the defense from being around Coach Martindale and all of the guys in the locker room helps you understand how everyone else is around you, and you move faster a little bit…When your thinking, you’re not playing really fast. ”
Smith said that there isn’t a point where it just “clicks.” He describes learning the system as more of a gradual evolution that comes to the guys who study and work hard.
With Smith’s insight, I think it’s important for people to remember that we need to give certain players time to adjust to a new game of football. Football development comes in different stages and is based on individual differences. Not everyone can have a rookie year like Eddie Royal. He was surrounded by the right situation and wasn’t expected to make an immediate impact. For various reasons, however, he did.
For linemen, it’s a little bit easier to make the transition and have a successful rookie campaign compared to a skill position like quarterback.
Some players are drafted to make an immediate impact while others are known “development projects” to be utilized in the future.
For Alphonso Smith, the rookie road was a little bit rocky in spots as he saw limited action at cornerback. On special teams, he averaged 18.8 yards on 4 kick returns and 4.7 yards on 10 punt returns.
Stay tuned in as I cover this afternoon’s practice.
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