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Round 2 of rookie learning experience begins in second week of OTAs

Derrius Guice has drawn praise for his early ability to pick things up at the running back position. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Redskins rookie Greg Stroman got an early taste of life in the NFL at organized team activities last week when the cornerback lined up opposite of newly acquired free agent Paul Richardson. The seventh-round pick was a few steps off the line of scrimmage pre-snap, but Richardson still ran right by the rookie and caught a ball for about 45 yards from Alex Smith.

Stroman simply got beat deep.

Those are the types of moments a highly-touted rookie class will learn from, and the coaching staff will be interested how quickly those players can do so. The team begins the second session of OTAs today and one thing to look for will be how the rookies take what they learned in the first workout and incorporate into this week.

“They’re definitely getting welcomed in,” Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman said last week. “Things you did in college do not work here. You have to have technique. You have to be disciplined in what the assignment is and what they called because if you don’t, you’re going to see what’s going to happen.

“Absolutely, it will [take through training camp].”

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Coach Jay Gruden complimented second-round pick Derrius Guice for his early ability to pick things up at the running back position last week, and first-round pick Daron Payne seemed to have a steady opening session.

Third-round tackle Geron Christian should get plenty of reps during OTAs with starters Trent Williams and Morgan Moses still recovering from injury. Early fan favorite Trey Quinn, drafted as Mr. Irrelevant with the final overall pick, showed some good hands during the practice open to media by contorting backward to grab a pass thrown behind him.

The acclimation process is a lengthy one that is in it infancy.

“It’ll take them the whole year because you don’t know what you don’t know,” Norman said. “You’ve got to make mistakes to be able to learn from that. The rookie who doesn’t make mistakes, I try to find one because I’ve never seen it. That’s expected. But over time they get better and they understand and they get it. They really truly do and you see that.”

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Norman said he didn’t really hit his stride until his third year as everyone faces challenges from year to year. Some rookies start fast then fall into a sophomore slump once teams around the league have film on them and can pinpoint weaknesses. Others struggle early and make that leap in the second season. The Redskins are hoping for a significant step forward from all of their second-year players, but particularly defensive lineman Johnathan Allen, linebacker Ryan Anderson, cornerback Fabian Moreau and safety Montae Nicholson.

Veteran safety D.J. Swearinger was optimistic during the opening week.

“Anytime rookies come in … they’ve got the look in their eyes whether they want to be the best or they’re confused,” Swearinger said. “We’ve got a little bit of both. I feel like those guys, once they get comfortable and settled in and get to film work and understand what coach wants out of them, they’ll be good.”

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