A combination of 10 draft picks, eight college free agents, seven first-year veterans and 44 tryout players congregated Friday afternoon with the same objective -- to showcase their NFL potential during the Redskins' annual rookie minicamp in Ashburn, Va.
In honor of the three-day event, Redskins.com spoke to four current players -- first-round pick Daron Payne, late rounder Trey Quinn, college signee Matt Flanagan and tryout signee Darvin Kidsy -- who proved themselves at rookie minicamp a year ago.
Here's what we found out:
What was your Redskins rookie minicamp experience like?
Payne: It was exciting being around everybody and being up here. After rookie minicamp and OTAs, the pace starts picking up and just getting used to how people do things and how coaches change it up.
Quinn: It was fun. It was like the spring ball for me last year, really. Just getting out there, getting a helmet on for the first time in a while and kind of getting through with all of the combine [stuff] and finally being able to play ball. I enjoyed it. It was long, it was hot, but it was worth it.
Flanagan: It was really your first chance to get hands-on with some of the coaches that you talk to during the process after the draft. Just trying to be as much of a sponge as you can in the first meeting because they throw you everything you got as far as what you have to know for that first practice and then the second one.
Kidsy: The first week of rookie mini-camp I went to the [Cleveland] Browns first, and my whole mindset was changed because I already knew what to expect and what the coaches wanted to see. So I already had one foot forward towards earning a spot.
What was your mindset entering the weekend?
Quinn: Go out there and kick [butt]. Just straight up. Dominate every rep. That’s all I could really do. Go out there and prove myself from the first snap. I actually dropped my first ball, and I was kind of pissed. But then I turned it up, and there was no looking back from there.
Flanagan: It’s just learning and getting to learn and get coached up about how they teach NFL technique on some of the thing. So just applying what they teach you in the meeting rooms to the practice field.
Kidsy: Everything that’s put on tape is viewed. If you put good things on tape, there’s nothing else they can say. Film doesn’t lie, so if you put good things on tape you’ve got a good chance of good things happening.
What was rookie minicamp like mentally?
Payne: It’s easy for D-line because we really just go left or right, so I can’t say. It’s definitely a turning point. We have to go from learning this playbook to learning another one. But I feel like once you're studying it, it just starts clicking.
Quinn: A lot of plays, a lot of picking up, especially the first night, but I’m usually pretty good with learning the plays and stuff. I mean I studied for probably three hours the night before just to make sure I was caught up with everything and ready to go out and get in the huddle.
Kidsy: Just adapting to the depth of the playbook, getting it in a short amount of time. If you can process things in a short amount of time that will be the best thing for a rookie coming in. If you know what to do, you can perform at the highest of your abilities.
What were the biggest takeaways from rookie minicamp?
Payne: Just getting the playbook and seeing how coaches like to do things. Just getting used to the change from college to the NFL.
Quinn: It was just the reps I took in a huddle, just being able to listen to my job instead of focusing on everybody else and all of the other verbiage in the huddle. It was just focusing on what I had.
Flanagan: It’s kind of the first opportunity you get of that cutthroat, sink-or-swim business of football and the NFL, so that’s kind of in the back of your head the entire time while you’re playing. I was an undrafted rookie free agent, so I had already signed, so I wasn’t trying out, but I knew that the other guys that were here at this mini camp with me were working to take my spot.
Kidsy: It’s about being honest with yourself and you performed to the best of your abilities. If you’re honest with yourself, you kind of know if you made the team or not, just by your performance. Sometimes it’s a numbers thing. Like with the Browns, I did perform well, but maybe it was a numbers thing where you just have to find the right fit.
What's the best advice you can give for players participating in rookie minicamp this weekend?
Quinn: Stay hydrated, wear some damn sunscreen. ... Really it was just get your legs ready, get your mind ready. Hit the reset button right before you get there and turn it up for those couple of days.
Flanagan: You immediately feel that pressure, and I think that was something that was the thing that kind of stood out to me most is that immediate sense of urgency of like, ‘Hey man, it’s time to perform, and the underperformers get cut, and the guys who do well keep moving on.’ It’s your first experience of that.
Kidsy: Just give total effort, 100 percent effort. Make sure you pay attention to details because that’s what the coaches want to know -- if you can comprehend and pay attention to the small details. That’s the biggest difference between the league and college because everybody’s good and can play. If you have this much more detail than the next guy, that means you’re that much more prepared to win every rep. If you just come in and win every rep, you’ll be OK.